SA’s race relations improving

2010-03-24 00:00

DESPITE a recent resurgence of racial slurs among South African political leaders, a new survey shows that there has been a great improvement in race relations among most of the country’s race groups.

The latest survey done by Ipsos Markinor between May 2009 and November 2009 found that between 49% and 58% of people surveyed believe that there has been an improvement in relations among various race groups, while only between 12% and 14% believe it is deteriorating.

A survey done in the same period in 2008 showed similar responses of between 49% and 50% and 15-17%, respectively.

An Ipsos Markinor political analyst, Anneke Greyling, said the trend is further evidence that racially charged statements by persons like Julius Malema are not at all representative of prevailing opinion in South Africa.

“It is very comforting to see that the trend has continuously improved over the last few years and that the percentage of South Africans with a positive feeling far outweighs the prophets of gloom on this topic,” Greyling said.

The survey is conducted every six months and the aim is to track shifts in public opinion across a wide range of issues, with fieldwork being conducted in April and November each year.

Fieldwork for the study discussed in the latest report was conducted during November last year and involved about 3 300 South Africans aged 18 years and older, the same as the South African population of voting age.

Greyling said the survey also reveals that government is getting more credit for its efforts in nation-building, which bodes well for a positive spirit in the country during the Fifa Soccer World Cup in June this year.

“In the period immediately following on the 2004 election, we recorded very high approval ratings for the government in respect of its nation-building efforts.

“This trend turned downward in May 2008 and coincided with a feeling of general despair with the government displayed by South Africans during the final days of the [former president Thabo] Mbeki period,” Greyling said

“The latest reading points towards a general growing positive feeling towards government and how it manages nation-building.”

Greyling said the Ipsos Markinor surveys are a true reflection of opinions of South Africans because they are done across racial lines, in all provinces and across different language groups.

She added that the surveys also sample citizens in cities and those in deep rural areas of the country.

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