South Africans are Feeling a Sense of Growing Economic Insecurity

By Published On: 1st April 2021

Inclusive Economies began 2021 with two new publications assessing the state of South Africa’s economy, society and body politic. Drawing on insights from the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB), a nationally representative public opinion survey of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), we find that South African’s are feeling a sense of growing economic insecurity underpinned by worrying employment prospects. In 2019, South Africa recorded its highest number of protests and riots in the 21st century. In the same year, nearly half (42%) of South Africans perceived a worsening of their employment opportunities since 1994 while nearly three in four (72%) of South Africans link present-day poverty to historical disadvantage under apartheid. This parallels the lived reality of South Africans who experience income deprivation, with as many as 18% of black South Africans, 9% of Coloured South Africans and only 2% of white South Africans reporting regularly going without an income.

In our publication, we examine the forces that underpin these growing perceptions of material scarcity and insecurity and how they intercept with a changing landscape of social mobilisation. With a unified vision that informs coherent, inclusive policies as well as an accountable, honest state, the inclusive growth agenda can consolidate lasting social cohesion on South Africa.  Read our full analysis here, and share it with someone who might find it useful.

Inclusive Economies also collaborated with the broader Research & Policy team to put out a Policy Brief highlighting the main themes that would frame this year’s State of the Nation Address. Taking stock of how we arrived at a contemporary South Africa, we put forward questions to policymakers and society on how we can move beyond the constraints on our economy, society and body politic.

With trust deficits, an oversight crisis and mounting debt, political institutions and leaders are faced with a society whose economic security is threatened by the decline in capacity of the very institutions poised to spur development. The 2021 local-government elections will test the capacity and legitimacy of the body politic, whilst the success of the economic recovery plan will be determined by the same two factors.

We postulate that an assertive, independent oversight alongside the building a unified vision between the government, private sector and labour unions will unleash a momentum for greater capacity, trust and ultimately, lasting social cohesion for South Africans.

Through the rest of 2021, Inclusive Economies will be releasing a series of publications that assess the impacts of slowed economic growth on peace across the African Continent. Be the first to receive these anticipated publications by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Jaynisha Patel, Project Leader for the Inclusive Economies at the IJR

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