A new report by the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) paints a picture of a country living in relative racial harmony, which many may find surprising.
One of the interesting findings from the research conducted by the IRR is that 77% of black respondents have never personally experienced racism.
“The same percentage believes that, ‘with better education and more jobs, the differences between the races will disappear’. The poll also finds that 90% of black respondents believe that ‘the different races need each other for progress and there should be equal opportunities for all’,” read a statement from the IRR about the finds.
The IRR released the research as part of celebrating Human Rights Day last week.
According to the findings of the research, relations between South Africans of different races are mainly positive, with an overwhelming majority believing that ‘the different races need each other for progress and there should be equal opportunities for all’.
The report, titled Race Relations in South Africa: Reasons for Hope 2018 – Holding the Line’, cautions against complacency, however, noting that “racial rhetoric has increased minority fears and encouraged blacks to see South Africa as a country in which whites, in particular, must now take second place”.
The IRR said it polled a representative sample of South Africans during December 2017.
The author of the report, head of Policy Research Dr Anthea Jeffery said: “It is important to guard against complacency on race issues, for 61% of black respondents also agree that ‘South Africa is now a country for black Africans and whites must take second place’.”
Jeffery added that the results, which are “mainly positive”, should fill the country’s citizens with hope.
Key findings of the poll are that:
* 63% of black South Africans think race relations have improved since 1994, while 16% think race relations have remained much the same since then;
* Close on 80% of all respondents and 77% of blacks agreed that better education and more jobs would in time ‘make the present differences between the races steadily disappear’;
* ‘Creating more jobs’, ‘improving education’ and ‘fighting crime’ were the three top issues which most South Africans wanted the government to focus on;
* Only 5% of all respondents (and 4% of blacks) wanted the government to concentrate on ‘fighting racism’. In addition, a mere 1% of black respondents wanted the government to focus on ‘speeding up affirmative action’, while the same proportion of blacks (1%) wanted it to concentrate on ‘speeding up land reform’;
* More than two-thirds of all respondents (67%) agreed that the focus in hiring should be on merit, rather than race, with 62% of blacks endorsing this view;
* Two-thirds of all respondents agreed that politicians are exaggerating the problems posed by racism and colonialism in order to excuse their own shortcomings. A high proportion of black respondents (62%, or close on a two-thirds majority) agreed with this statement; and
* Almost 60% of all respondents agreed that, in selecting sports teams, the best players should always be picked, even if representativity was then not evident. Support for this was particularly strong among whites (91%), coloureds (77%) and Indians (67%). A little over half of the black respondents (51%) also endorsed this perspective.
“Racial goodwill is still strong, as the IRR’s 2017 field survey shows. This is an important and very positive phenomenon. It is also a tribute to the perceptiveness and sound common sense of most South Africans. Despite the urgings of politicians and many other commentators, most ordinary people have avoided over-simplifying complex issues by blaming them on race. This provides the country with an important reason for hope,” Jeffery said.