A new poll finds that fewer South Africans believe that life has improved since 1994, than those who believe that life was better before the ANC government took over.
Public opinion data from the 2015 Afrobarometer survey in South Africa show that citizens
rate the current political system more highly than apartheid, as they have done since the first survey in 2000.
The Afrobarometer team in South Africa, led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and Plus 94 Research, interviewed 2,400 adult South Africans in August and September 2015
However, a majority of South Africans believe that the country has failed to advance on
a range of socioeconomic indicators, including personal safety, economic circumstances, employment opportunities, racial relations, and disparities between rich and poor.
On average, less than four in 10 citizens (37%) believe that these conditions are “better” or “much better” than in 1994, while six in 10 (62%) say they have either stayed the same or deteriorated.
The largest proportion of respondents see an improvement in race relations (52%), followed by safety (42%), economic circumstances (41%), and employment (30%). Only 17% perceive an improvement in differences between the rich and the poor.
Unsurprisingly, African National Congress (ANC) supporters are significantly more likely to believe that these conditions have improved than supporters of the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) (41% vs. 26%).
Among citizens close to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), on the other hand, perceived improvement (38%) is close to that of the ANC, which likely reflects the shared
political traditions and racial makeup of the two parties, support bases.
Among racial groups, black citizens (39%) are the most likely to say that conditions have improved since 1994, followed by Coloured (33%) and white (29%) respondents. Indian
respondents are significantly more critical: On average, only 16% say that these conditions have gotten “better” or “much better” since 1994.
However, optimism about the political system in 10 years’ time has declined significantly – from an average of 8.2 points in 2011 to 6.8, the report said.
Despite their dissatisfaction with the rate of change, South Africans remain committed to their national identity and to nation-building efforts, the poll found.
More than eight in 10 “agree” or “strongly agree” that creating a united country is desirable (87%) and possible (83%).