Half of South Africans say race relations have improved - survey

2016-02-29 21:00
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Cape Town – Despite a perception created in the press and social media of a country on the verge of a race war, race relations in South Africa are actually in a good state.

This is according to a field survey by the SA Institute of Race Relations, which found that more than half (54%) of citizens felt race relations had improved since 1994.

Only one in five South Africans (20.4%) felt they had become worse, according to the Race Relations in SA – Reasons for Hope report.

The majority of those surveyed (85.4%) agreed that "different races needed each other for progress and there should be full opportunity for people of all colours".

Contrary to what was seen on social media, most blacks and whites (both almost 80%) said they experienced no racism when asked: "If you do notice racism in your life, in what ways do you notice it?"

Acrimonious race debate

"The results should fill all South Africans with hope," SAIRR policy fellow Sara Gon said on Monday.

"The acrimonious race debate that has raged in newspapers and on social media this year is not a reflection of what the silent majority of South Africans feel."

The SAIRR decided to reveal some of the survey results early after an acrimonious race debate at the beginning of the year.

Gon said most citizens respected each other and wanted to continue getting on well with each other.

"This is remarkable considering the poverty and unemployment levels that still confront our society. It is testimony to the commitment of the majority of South Africans to see our democracy succeed."

She said sound future race relations would depend on continued real improvements in living standards for all citizens.

The survey canvassed 2 245 people, of differing socio-economic statuses, in both rural and urban areas in all nine provinces. Of the respondents, 78.3% were black, 9.9% white, 9% coloured, and 2.8% Indian. A quarter of respondents were unemployed.

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