A survey conducted by Futurefact finds that both black and white middle-class South African’s believe that that the best person should be given the job regardless of race or gender.
Futurefact, a body of independent researchers, said it explored the similarities and differences between black and white South Africans who self-classify themselves as middle-class or upper-middle class.
It found that 85% of black respondents were against affirmative action, while 91% of white respondents were against the policy.
More than three-quarters of all respondents ,however, feel that “only a few people have really benefited from black economic empowerment”.
The survey found that more than 85% of middle-class South Africans are proud to be South African and believe that the country is as capable of achieving greatness as any country on earth.
While they are aware that there are problems here, over 80% have no desire to leave South Africa.
The findings are based on a probability sample of 3,025 adults aged 15 years and over, living in communities of more than 500 people throughout South Africa, representing 21.6 million adults.
Respondents are optimistic people who believe that it is “possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich”.
They also realise that they won’t be successful unless they work at it and over 90% say: “I am a person who can achieve whatever I set out to achieve provided I put effort into it”.
Around 90% are aware of the need to save money and invest for the future and are prepared to make sacrifices now for the future well-being of themselves and their families.
They say that they are very cautious about getting into debt and rather save money before they buy the things they want (79% black and 84% white).
Nearly all respondents (90%) feel that South African citizens should stand up for what they believe in and not wait for others to take action.
“It may be just a matter of time before the South African middle-classes find an issue that makes them take to the streets – for example three quarters of them believe that e-tolls are a ‘bad idea’ and over 80% believe the government only takes action when there are strikes or civil action,” Futurefact said.
On the thorny issue of race, 90% of respondents said: “I am comfortable with people of the same class/ status/ education regardless of their race” and that “black and white people in South Africa need each other to survive and prosper”.
Compared to a year ago they say they are “much more likely to openly criticise the government” (75% and 78%) and that they are “pessimistic about the future of the country because of the lack of accountability in government” (74% and 80%).
A key difference arises when it comes to political affiliation. Unlike their black counterparts, the white middle class have little confidence in President Zuma and are not supporters of the ANC.
They are less confident about SA’s future prospects than they were in 1994 and are less likely to feel their quality of life in SA is much better than it would be elsewhere (55% white as opposed 79% black).
“Looking at the overall picture, Futurefact finds far more similarities than differences between South Africa’s white and black middle classes. When and if the two realise the potency of this and start to work together, the government could find itself facing much tougher challenges and demands,” the researchers said.