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Tension between races is growing, poll shows

Resource type: News

SouthScan (South Africa) |

[© SouthScan v23/24 5 Dec 08]

Tension between the races has increased markedly over the past year while optimism on racial peace has declined 40 percent. Fears for personal safety have also increased, a recent survey shows.

The reasons are being ascribed to political infighting and economic recession, as well as crime. The persistent high degree of economic inequality figured as a major factor in respondents views.

The figures may be worse now – the poll was taken in April and May at a time when political confidence was on the rise after the Polokwane conference of the ruling African National Congress last December, but before the ousting of Thabo Mbeki as state president, and before the split in the ANC.

According to the survey by the SA Reconciliation Barometer on behalf of the Cape Town-based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), almost half of South Africans are less confident about peaceful co-existence with people of other race or ethnic groups than they were in 2007.

IJR staffer Jan Hofmeyr said the poll showed the level of optimism on peaceful racial co-existence had declined 40 percent from last year.

At the same time peoples assessment of their personal safety had declined 17 percent over the past two years. At 34 percent this made it the lowest recorded level of optimism since the survey started in 2003.

A total of 3,500 people over 15 years were questioned for the survey.

Motlanthe fails to make mark

Another survey shows that SA President Kgalema Motlanthe is failing to make an impact as a national leader.

Forty percent of 2,000 people interviewed replied Dont know when asked how they felt about his performance since taking over from Thabo Mbeki in
September, said TNS Research Surveys on Thursday. The usual figure is around 10 to 14 percent.

The survey showed a 36 percent approval rating for Motlanthe, who is also the deputy president of the ANC, and that 24 percent of those interviewed did not think he was doing well in his new position.

A breakdown of those interviewed showed that 47 percent of blacks said he is faring well, 16 percent said he is not and 37 percent do not know.
Only 13 percent of whites say he is doing well, 42 percent believe he is not and 45 percent dont know.

The approval ratings also shifted before and after a convention organised by former ANC chairman Mosiuoa Lekota to launch a new party on November 2.

Before that date, 37 percent said Motlanthe was doing a good job. After that date the figure dropped to 30 percent. In addition the percentage of people saying they did not know if he is doing a good job rose from 40 percent to 42 percent.

The split in the ANC has pushed blacks, particularly, towards the Dont know category, while other race groups moved more solidly into a negative stance.

Approval levels are highest amongst those whose home language is Zulu (49 percent) and Sotho (51 percent), with Tswana speakers at 47 percent and Xhosa speakers at 37 percent.

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