SARB Report 2005 – 5th Round

In 2002, eight years into post-apartheid South Africa, certain behavioural patterns relating to the national reconciliation process became increasingly discernable, but lacked quantification to confirm their pervasiveness. The IJR, which had been formed two years earlier, became increasingly aware of the need to supplement its extensive community reconciliation initiatives with a survey instrument to gain a deeper understanding of the multiple variables that impact on the success or failure of initiatives to reconcile a nation that has been divided for centuries. In that year the Institute launched an exploratory survey to iron out the potential pitfalls that were involved in conducting a project of this nature. This paved the way for the first SARB Survey that was conducted in April 2003.

Over the past three years we have continued to sharpen the survey’s utility as a measurement instrument by expanding the scope of areas that is covered in the survey. Its emphasis remains on measuring key indicators that relate to our five central reconciliation hypotheses about race relations, human security, historical confrontation, dialogue, political culture, and cross-cutting political relationships (see p.6.) In order to preserve the longitudinal value of the survey, the majority of the original measurements have remained in the survey. Without these it would have been impossible to establish benchmarks from which further research could benefit.

In consecutive surveys we have, however, continued to increase the number of measurements for particular indicators in order to deepen our understanding about nuances that might otherwise have been lost in more generalized statements and questions. One such indicator has been human security, which strongly relates to a critical issue that features quite prominently in South African public discourse, the expansion of socio-economic justice. Since the third round of the SARB Survey, we have, therefore included measurements for citizen satisfaction with a range of basic government service delivery items. Another indicator that has received specific attention in this latest round of the survey has been the increasing focus that is being placed on the consolidation of key democratic institutions. Pressure on institutions to deliver is mounting, as we have witnessed in the public display of dissatisfaction with local government delivery across the country. We ask what impact this has had on public perception about the legitimacy of key democratic institutions.

This document reports on selected findings from the fifth round of the SARB Survey, which was conducted during the months of April and May of 2005. Being in its third year of existence, the project increasingly allows the institute to discern patterns with regard to particular forms of behaviour. During its first two years the national average of certain measurements failed to present an accurate account of the sentiments of the average respondent within each of the particular population group. The average rather pointed to the middle ground between the extremes of minority and majority group responses. There are strong indications that this may be changing. Response patterns during the two most recent rounds of the survey suggest that the gap between the perceptions of different population groups is narrowing. In other words, a convergence in opinion appears to be taking root amongst South Africans.

The report covers a broad series of responses to most statements and questions that were posed in the survey. However, due to limitations in the length of the report, not all responses have been documented here. In most instances we have only provided a racial breakdown of opinions, but this should not be viewed as being our only or primary mode of analysis. In particular instances we have also provided responses to the survey measurements in terms of socio-economic status. In such cases, we have made use of the living standards measurement (LSM), to distinguish between perceptions and attitudes of people that fall within different social classes. We would like to encourage readers of the report to approach the IJR, should additional information be required about the impact of variables other than race and class.

By: Hofmeyr, J.H.
Pages: 69
Dimensions: A4
Date of publication: 2006