Inequality the greatest impediment to national reconciliation - IJR

Institute says predominantly black LSM1-4's report significantly lower levels of racial integration than higher levels


The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) released its 2013 South African Reconciliation Barometer survey, which indicates that class inequality - which continues to reflect racial divisions - has become the greatest impediment to national reconciliation (see here - PDF).

The IJR released its first South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) in 2003. This year's report, entitled Confronting Exclusion: Time for Radical Reconciliation, proposes a renewed concept of "radical reconciliation" to highlight the link between the need for material transformation in conjunction with psychological bridge building.

As South Africa moves into its 20th year of democracy and prepares for its fifth national election, the report focuses on current issues of social, political and economic exclusion. It lists six overarching social issues, of which class was most commonly identified as the most divisive (27.9%) with race dropping to fourth place (14.6%). SARB project leader Dr. Kim Wale pointed out that in terms of the "racial make-up of material exclusion, race and class remain intimately connected".

One of the measures used in the methodology was the living standard measure (LSM). The majority of the lowest four LSM groups (LSM 1 - 4) are black and they expressed significantly lower levels of inter-racial integration than the higher levels experienced by the middle and upper classes. This presents a serious impediment to the likelihood of citizens transcending historical race barriers. For the ordinary citizen, says Wale, "material inequality remains the biggest challenge to achieving effective reconciliation in South Africa".

In terms of exclusion from political life, the SARB indicated that in 2013 citizens feel less trusting of national leaders. Key results of the survey show a 10.8% decrease since 2012 in citizens' confidence in national government. There has, furthermore, been a 13% increase in the proportion of citizens who feel that government does not care about "people like them".

In general, ordinary citizens demonstrate highest confidence in religious institutions (67%) and the public protector (64.4%), and lowest confidence in political parties (45.2%) and the police (47.9%). The latter finding is particularly significant in terms of the coverage that police brutality has received (specifically the Marikana massacre), reflecting a 12.3% drop in confidence in the police from 60.2% in the 2012.

The SARB survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews in all nine provinces, using a quantitative questionnaire developed by the IJR that includes approximately one hundred survey items. The nationally representative sample was drawn from the adult population aged 15 and above, and included approximately 1 989 metro and 1 601 non-metro inhabitants with a 50/50 gender split. All interviews were conducted in six languages (English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and Tswana), according to the preference of the respondents.

Statement issued by HWB Communications on behalf of the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation, December 4 2013


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