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%.