What South Africans think about big land issues, according to a new government survey

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has released final sample of its ‘Baseline survey’.

The aim of the survey is to ascertain levels of awareness of human rights and the Constitution and to identify barriers to entrenching a human rights culture in South Africa.

The final sample consisted of nearly 25,000 interviews, and tackled issues including the public’s general mood about the country, land and property, levels of constitutional awareness, attitudes towards the Constitution, civic and political engagement, sex and sexuality, foreign nationals, human rights and attitudes towards democracy in the country.

Constitutional, human rights awareness

With regards to constitutional awareness, the respondents were asked if they had heard of the Constitution of South Africa and if they had heard of the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.

Slightly more than half, 51%, of respondents, had heard of either.

Male respondents were more likely at 55% than their female counterparts, who stood at 47%, to have heard of either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

With regards to the race of respondents, whites were the most likely (68%) to have heard of either, followed by Indian/Asian respondents (61%).

While the majority (56%) of coloureds had heard of either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, less than half (48%) of black African respondents had heard of either.

“What this tells us is that there is still an enormous task ahead of us in raising levels of constitutional and human rights awareness,” said Justice and Constitutional Development minister Michael Masutha.

“If persons or communities are not even aware of their rights, how can they possibly enforce them?”

Land issue

The respondents were also asked on the issue of land which is the subject of much debate and discourse in the country currently.

Almost 72% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that land should be returned to black people where it was taken away.

As one would expect, there were differences across the races.

While 77% of black Africans agreed, this was true for 63% of coloureds, 61% of Indians and only 45% of whites.

However, despite these levels of support for returning the land to black people where it was taken away, 75% of all adults agreed that no-one should be allowed to take their land away from them or their families.

Minister Masutha said this confirms that there is no simple solution to land reform.

“Government is going to handle this matter in the way we’ve always handled difficult issues in our country: by dialogue, discussion, engagement – until we find good solutions that will take our country forward… South Africans must, therefore, navigate this issue, not by fear or distrust,” he said.

Read: Australia looking at fast-tracking visas for South African farmers amid land grabs

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What South Africans think about big land issues, according to a new government survey