Two distinct and vociferous camps have emerged in the past few days over the revolving door politics involving President Jacob Zuma and the ministry of finance. One called for Zuma’s head after his appointment of parliamentary unknown David van Rooyen as finance minister, the other wanted him left alone.
Mienke Steytler of the Institute of Race Relations said South Africa was a split society. “We do feel these past four days have not done much to unite people and in the past two years we’ve seen the reconciliation process almost stall.
“There is a lot of work to be done in race relations in this country.” Steytler added there was a definite correlation in data between the economy and how people felt towards each other. A November study found public confidence in the president had decreased significantly since 2011, and that almost six in 10 South Africans believe he routinely ignored parliament and the law. The study, released by Afrobarometer, also found government rated poorly in most performance areas. This was most noticeable in areas of economic policy, while government rated positively on welfare distribution (84%) and food security (60%).
“Public approval of President Zuma’s performance dropped from 64% in 2011 to 36% in 2015. A majority of citizens of all race groups disapprove of his performance in the past year,” it said. Steytler noted that when the economy was doing well, people tended to be much more gracious towards those different from themselves. “Whereas when the economy weakens, we see a lot more racist incidents and people become increasingly frustrated, and put it towards fellow citizens instead of government.” “It’s much easier to lash out at someone on your own level tha