South Africans fear unemployment and crime than racism

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- Most South Africans regard racism as a serious problem, but they do not feel that it is an immediate crisis in their lives.
They are more worried about unemployment and crime.
Racism is in fact only ninth on their list of 'unresolved problems.
' These are among the key findings of a nation-wide survey released by the South African Institute of Race Relations on the eve of the UN World Conference against Racism, which starts in Durban on Friday.
The fully representative survey sample covered 2,144 South African residents aged 16 years and older, all of whom were personally interviewed.
The report found that the racial tension and discrimination that are regularly reported in the media were a tragic denial of everything that the new South Africa stands for and could place the future stability of society at risk.
The elimination of race discrimination demands a common commitment from all South Africans.
Around 48 percent of all adults, and 49 percent among Africans, feel that race relations had improved in recent years while only 25 percent feel that they have deteriorated.
White Afrikaners are the least positive and 44 percent of them feel that inter-group relations have deteriorated.
However, only 5 percent of those questioned said they faced treatment that had a racial character while the rest was personal, domestic, occupational and in the neighbourhood.
In contrast to these rather positive trends, levels of trust in fellow South Africans have fallen.
Some 65 percent of adults trust their compatriots less than they did a few years ago.
Once again, however, only 10 percent link their mistrust to issues of race.
Crime, corruption and politics take the blame.
Racism does feature as one of the major unresolved problems in the new South Africa, but only some 8 percent of all adults give it priority compared with 55 percent as regards unemployment and 48 percent in the case of crime.
Some 54 percent of all adults and 58 percent of African people are dissatisfied with opportunities for personal progress in their lives.
However, only 11 percent (6 percent among Africans) see the impediments as due to racial factors or racism.
Among minorities the proportions blaming race discrimination are higher, and as many as 40 percent of white Afrikaners feel their race is holding them back.
A question on occupational advancement gave much the same results.
The people interviewed are concerned about growing inequality in the society, with some 65 percent seeing it as deepening.
While most people know that there is inequality between races, only some 15 percent of South Africans see racism or race discrimination as the causes of the deterioration.
Other factors like education and unemployment weigh far more heavily.
While the survey has revealed deep concern among all South Africans about a number of socio-economic trends, the specific factors of race and race relations are not seen as dominant problems, or as the critical causes of the trends.
At the same time, however, consciousness of race and racism has not receded into the background.
Some 59 percent of all South Africans, and 54 percent of African people, see racism as a serious problem.
This concern is greatest among minorities - between 67 percent among coloured people rising to a massive 87 percent among white Afrikaners see racism as a serious problem.
While the problem is seen to be serious, it is often serious in abstract, as it were.
Nearly 50 percent among all South Africans (46 percent among African people) could not specify direct personal experiences of racism, race discrimination or racial antipathy.
The examples given by the remaining people who did specify examples were very often related to social and economic disadvantage rather than racism of a core kind.
"We accept, however, that some of the examples were examples of 'institutional racism,' the investigators said.
South Africa has many problems, and it is possible to put constructions on them that will link them, directly or indirectly, to racism or apartheid or the workings of the colonial and/or the global economy, they added.
At the same time, however, the causes of South Africa's problems are complex, because new layers of causes have accumulated over time, the report concluded.

29 august 2001 21:45:00

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