South Africans are clear about what they want from government

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has published a new report titled ‘reasons for hope 2019’, showing how race relations in the country have held up surprisingly well.

“Racial tensions could easily have risen strongly in a year characterised by increasingly harsh racial rhetoric from both the ANC and the EFF.

“Much of this invective was aimed at securing a constitutional amendment that would allow land expropriation without compensation (EWC). Now that Parliament has recommended this EWC amend-ment, racial accusations have declined again,” the report said.

The report is based on a survey carried out from 8 – 19 December 2018 which generated 1,010 telephone interviews.

Of these respondents, 771 were black, 97 were coloured people, 25 were Indian, and 115 were white. All respondents were interviewed by experienced field workers and in the languages of their own choice.

What South Africans want

Respondents in the survey were also asked to choose – from a list of possible answers supplied to them – ‘which one of the following issues should be the top priority for the government’.

The three top issues identified were ‘creating more jobs’, ‘fighting corruption’ and ‘improving education’.

In total, a quarter (26%) of respondents identified ‘creating more jobs’ as the key issue for the government to tackle.

Other key concerns were ‘fighting corruption’ (cited by 14% of all respondents) and ‘improving education’ (mentioned by 11% of all respondents).

‘Fighting crime’ (mentioned by 10% of all respondents), ‘building more RDP houses’ (cited also by 10% of those interviewed), ‘fighting drugs and drug abuse’ (cited by 9%), and ‘fighting illegal immigration’ (mentioned by 7%), also ranked highly.

Proportions exceed 100% because more than one such issue could be mentioned.

By contrast, only 2% of all respondents wanted the government to focus on ‘fighting racism’.

In addition, only 2% of black respondents wanted the government to focus on ‘speeding up land reform’, while only 1% of black interviewees wanted it to concentrate on ‘speeding up affirmative action’.

“These results show that relatively few black South Africans want the government to focus its efforts on ‘fighting racism’ or accelerating the pace of land reform, while fewer still think the state’s emphasis should be on faster affirmative action,” the IRR said.

“Unemployment has been the concern most often cited by South Africans in all five of the IRR’s opinion polls on race relations since 2001.

“In each of these polls, by contrast, only a very small proportion of respondents identified the need to counter racism as a pressing priority,” it said.

Read: New case deals with employees who play the ‘race card’ to get out of trouble

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South Africans are clear about what they want from government