Monday, July 28, 2008

Optimistic about South Africa?

A TNS Research survey finds that South Africans across the races are significantly less optimistic about the country.

In February this year 60% of all South Africans were optimistic. Now just five months later the figure is only 49%.

White South Africans are the least optimistic. Only 21% of those surveyed indicated optimism. In 2005 the figure for optimism was 59% before slipping dramatically to where it is now.

Coloured and Indian/Asian South Africans are also signicantly less optimistic. Only 32% of coloureds are optimistic. The figure for Indians/Asians is 34%.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, Black South Africans have registered the highest levels of optimism. Now, however, the survey data indicate that there has been a
10% dip in confidence from 2004 (73%) to now (63%).

On July 22 an IOL headline read "Whites Leaving in Droves". Three days later an article in said:

"Black (38%) and mixed-race (40%) South Africans are growing increasingly weary of political and social uncertainty in the country and are seriously considering emigrating ..."
The article points out that this number indicates a "value statement" because not all can and want to leave.

There is also at least some anecdotal evidence that "more and more white South Africans in their late 20s and beyond are returning to South Africa," according to the Mail & Guardian.

The interesting thing about the studies above is that they capture worries about crime, the economy, Affirmative Action, and employment growth. The data is primarily drawn from urban areas.

I am not sure that the data would differ much in showing "optimism" but I expect that rural populations, particularly those who are Black, would be less likely to 'exhibit' the "exodus mentality".

That said, it should not surprise anyone that the rich are getting richer in South Africa. Only Swaziland and Namibia, among all nation-states, are worse in terms of the income gap between the rich and poor.

An article in the Sunday Times says:

"Incomes are growing faster in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Tshwane than anywhere else in the country, while rural districts like the former Transkei remain mired in poverty."
This is not surprising given the bifurcated nature of the nation-state.

What is also not surprising is that a University of South Africa (UNISA) study finds that urban whites are getting richer.

So, what is driving the eroding optimism that South Africans feel? Is there really a general "exodus mentality" across the races?

Tell us what you think.



Dade said...

Hi, Ridwan.

It seems to me that eroding optimism is a world-wide phenomenon rather than an exclusively South African trend. People everywhere are afraid of what the future holds. (I know I am.)

I think it's all driven by a low level awareness of global environmental degradation and the ascendancy of inhuman corporate entities that grind like cold machinery over anything in their paths.

Keep the faith.

Ridwan said...

Hi there Dade. Thank you kindly for commenting.

I think you are absolutely right brother. The level of optimism across the globe seems dim.

You are also right that we are lost inside "corporate entities", even those who have no direct tie suffer the consequences of the subprime lending scandals, for example.

There is a distinct alienation inside of this "cold machinery" for sure.

It is not exactly the alienation of Marx though, it is deeper in that it eats at our humanity and the meaning of life, our values, are under attack.

I can't see why many SAfricans who are leaving think they will be happier over "there". But then I have been over "there" and back most of my life.

There is no happiness guaranteed in the mere act of leaving. It is deeper than that.

Be well brother, and please "keep the faith" too.

Peace and struggle,