As divided as South Africa is by race, class and economy, it is united by love of country and land – even if perspectives differ.
However, a recent report shows too many people have one thing in common: violence. And SA is not in great company, according to the 2021 Global Peace Index (GPI) from the Institute for Economics & Peace.
Now in its 15th edition, the GPI covers 99.7% of the world population, “using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, and measures the state of peace across three domains: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation”.
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“This is the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last 13 years, with 87 countries improving, and 73 recording deteriorations; however, the change in score is the second smallest in the history of the index,” the GPI found.
The good news is South Africa hasn’t moved from last year’s position. The bad news is South Africa hasn’t moved from last year’s position and is still too far down the list for what was supposed to be Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s “rainbow nation” during our paradigm shift from apartheid to democracy.
“The five countries with the largest proportion of people who experienced violence or know someone who had are all in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report stated.
“Namibia has the highest rate in the world, at 63%, followed by South Africa, Lesotho, Liberia, and Zambia.”
The GPI found Singapore reported the lowest levels of fear of violence in the world with less than 5% of Singaporeans report being “very worried” about being the victim of violent crime.
“Globally, Rwanda has the highest proportion of people who feel safer today than they did five years ago,” the report stated.
In terms of economic cost of violence rank by percentage of GDP, SA (18th) falls into the top 20 of a list headed by Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan. SA’s immediate neighbours in this marker are Palestine (16th), Mali (17th) and Iraq (18th).
In the global state of peace list headed by Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark, South Africa (123rd) is joined at the hip with the USA (122nd) and Honduras (124th).
Mozambique, currently facing a growing civil war, has dropped two places to 103 while Lesotho, in the middle of its own political turmoil, ranked 112th after dropping four places from last year.
In sub-Saharan Africa of 44 countries measured out of 48 countries on the mainland, South Africa ranked 30th, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (29th) and Burundi (30th).
The report noted murders dropped by nearly 50% in SA during the hard lockdown. Still, more than 50% of people in Afghanistan, Brazil, SA, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic saw violence as the greatest risk they face in their daily lives.
More than 79% of people living in SA were “very worried” about violence while 57.9% had experienced violence in the past two years.
There was a 244% increase globally in riots, general strikes, and anti-government demonstrations between 2011 and 2019.
“There is currently no sign this trend is abating,” stated the report.