SA Politics in '99S&T notes the varying perceptions within society.
In a democracy it is critical that the views and perceptions of a society about matters of importance are reflected and debated by its public representatives. In a society such as South Africa, with huge inequalities between citizens, a nuanced approach to such issues is needed, as politicians have to negotiate a difficult path in trying to represent all of their constituents.
For this reason, the Kaiser Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Independent News Group, commissioned Strategy & Tactics and the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) to investigate the differences and similarities between the outlook of different groupings in South Africa. The components of the study included a set of focus groups, a survey amongst the public, a survey among four particular interest groups and a media content analysis.
The results of the survey are to be published in newspapers around the country for an entire week in April 1999, with the bulk of the results being released in a supplement at the end of the week.
Without wanting to preempt the release of the results, it has been a fascinating study that has again highlighted the racial differences that exist in this country. These racial differences are not only across material possessions and access to services, but also evident in the attitudes and outlook on the future. White and Indian respondents, who remain the most advantaged citizens, are also the first to complain about the hardships in the new South Africa.
The challenges facing the next government are clear from the results of the survey. It is imperative that economic development and economic freedom follow the political freedom that was won in 1994. It is only then that South Africa will be that place in the sun that most of its citizens want it to be, and believe that one day it will be.