Racists smoked out in new SA

CAPE TOWN — Racists are probably being publicly outed more readily as South Africans integrate and become intolerant of racism, ­according to Fanie du Toit, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Du Toit was speaking after the release of the 2014 annual SA Reconciliation Barometer ­yesterday and amid a wave of apparently ­racially-motivated attacks and racist rhetoric in the country.

In one of the more positive findings, the ­barometer showed that inter-racial socialisation has improved 13% between 2003 and 2013 — to 23,5%. Also, mistrust of other race groups has decreased by 12,5% over the same period, to 28,1%.

These results, said Du Toit, indicated that South Africans are growing accustomed to ­integration, “with people who have not adapted being smoked out”.

He warned against the “hot-heads” being ­allowed to gain ground, which could destroy the gains of the past two decades.

However, Du Toit also warned that the ­lower-income groups were being excluded from integration, with the upward trend contained to higher-income areas.

A major factor affecting reconciliation was whether blacks were willing to forgive, and whether whites acknowledged their privileged past, says the report. Here, there is a racial divide when it comes to historical memory. Although 76,4% of South Africans agree that apartheid was a crime against humanity — broken down racially, it represents more than 80% of blacks and less than 53% of whites.

Another factor was the decline of trust in ­political leaders, said Du Toit. Here, there had been a convergence between white and black perceptions since 2003. In 2013, 53,8% of blacks had trust in the national leaders, a decrease from 62,5%. Among whites, there had been a shift from 20,5% to 27,2%.

Calling for an analysis of what President ­Jacob Zuma’s presidency had cost the country in terms of lost opportunity, Du Toit said: “If you have trustworthy leaders, there is better chance at reconciliation. Under Zuma’s presidency, this trust has dropped off sharply.”

The overall findings paint a contradictory picture, which the barometer’s author Kim Wale described as a metaphor for light and shadow. “As we progress, the more we are able to see the shadows.”

Although there was greater trust and integration, the desire for a united South African identity has decreased by almost 18% over the past 10 years, to just 55% of the population.

Racial identity is also increasing in importance, with race moving from the third-most selected identity (11,8%) in 2003 to the second most selected identity (13,4%) in 2013. At the same time, South African identity as a choice dropped from 11,2% to 7,1%.

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