By: Mikhail Moosa
Date of publication: 2020
A Generation of Democracy in South Africa: SARB Occasional Paper 6
A generation of democracy in South Africa: Insights on political participation from the South African Reconciliation Barometer
Nearly a generation has passed since South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. At this stage, how healthy is the country’s democracy? This paper provides novel insights into South Africans’ perceptions of democracy, specifically their attitudes towards political participation. The data is from the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB), a nationally representative public opinion survey conducted by the IJR. This paper highlights that citizens do not believe their representatives are responsive to their concerns and that voting is not an effective means of participating in politics. Public opinion data explains why South Africa has seen declining voter turnout over time. While the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown will present significant challenges to many facets of South Africa’s democracy, it also presents an opportunity to reinvigorate governance in a more democratic mold, where citizens are engaged and encouraged to participate in their democracy.