Most SA citizens satisfied with social cohesion except whites, coloureds

Just over a half of the population expressed satisfaction that social cohesion was on the right track. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Just over a half of the population expressed satisfaction that social cohesion was on the right track. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

South Africans are happy with government’s effort to unite all citizens and the majority are proud to be South Africans.

Just over a half of the population (55%) expressed satisfaction that social cohesion was on the right track, according to key findings of a pulse of the people survey conducted by market research company Ipsos and released on the eve of Heritage Day.

But the country seems to be leaving its white and coloured citizens behind. These race groups are still sceptical about efforts to unite South Africa.

“Lowest levels of agreement come from the white and coloured population groups – 28% and 30% respectively,” said Ipsos in a statement.

Ipsos said it conducted this survey during March and April this year through face-to-face interviews with a randomly selected representative sample of 3 730 adult South Africans from all walks of life.  

Interestingly, younger people – 67% of those aged between 15 and 17 years – are the most impressed with government’s efforts to unite the country.
It is also this young population that is happy to be South African, 78% of 15 to 17 year olds and 77% of 18 to 24 year olds.

National celebrations
Despite being positive about nation building efforts, those polled were not convinced that the government is governing in the interests of all South Africans, with less than half of the population (47%) believing that government had everyone’s best interests at heart. 

“Again, lowest levels of agreement came from the coloured and white groups of South Africa – with only 17% of whites agreeing and 23% of coloureds agreeing with the statement,” said Ipsos. 

Government organised celebrations for national celebrations such as Heritage Day are normally attended by black people while other race groups choose to stay away. This has created a view that blacks are more willing to reach out to others than other South Africans of a different race.

Last year AfriForum Youth said many members of minority groups who do not attend government celebrations felt alienated because the events were not inclusive and the opinions of minorities were marginalised.

Charl Oberholzer, national chairperson of AfriForum Youth was quoted as saying: “public events organised by government, such as Youth Day celebrations, are so saturated with ANC politicking that those who are not supporters of the ANC are alienated and prefer not to attend”.

Over two-thirds of South Africans also expressed the desire to have their children educated in their own mother tongue, with Afrikaans and English speakers topping the list.

In 2012 the department of arts and culture convened the National Social Cohesion Summit in Soweto and said social cohesion was based on four key pillars: “diversity, inclusiveness, access and values”. Part of the objectives of government’s long-term plan, the National Development Plan, is to encourage unity and social cohesion, which government believes cannot be achieved “without reducing the gaps between rich and poor, black and white, women and men, city and country”.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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