Unity in exodus

2008-07-28 00:00

Statistics can never be relied upon to reveal the whole truth, but a study published last week shows some interesting, and worrying, trends. While many township dwellers like where they live, growing numbers of people say that they are unhappy. Wealth and status are factors, but a third of the country’s upper class people, nearly half of the middle class and 65% of the lower income group report frequent feelings of depression. And, while the study shows that South Africans are still seeking commonality with most seeing themselves as South African first and members of a particular race or language group only after that, increasing numbers are thinking of leaving.

It is a safe bet, too, that another common factor among emigrants of all races is marketable skill. And here starts a vicious cycle. As people with the skills and the competence to build the economy and staff an effective civil service (including the police and other arms of the criminal justice system) leave, so the conditions that breed crime worsen and the state’s capacity to counter it weakens. So the situation deteriorates and more people want to go.

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