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Measuring Social Cohesion in South Africa (Part 2/2)

Updated results from the Inclusive Society’s 2022 GovDem survey



Figure 3.10.: Comparison with regard to in-group trust


3.2.6. Conclusion


Trusting one’s fellow compatriots is crucial for the establishment of social cohesion in a country. Social cohesion is also hugely important for economic development. Sadly, there are worrying trust-deficit trends within South African society.


But for high levels of trust within families, disquieting trends endure across all other dimensions. Whilst people have reasonable trust in their neighbours, and whilst they grow to trust people that they have gotten to know, they highly distrust people they do not know. There are also disturbingly high levels of distrust amongst people from different religions and races, also with high levels of in-group distrust with regard to the latter.


The current South African society and its economy is rather fragile. It requires a national effort to unite the nation and rebuild the shattered economy. The part that social cohesion is to play in this must not be underestimated.


Leaders of society should refrain from divisive narratives and other actions that undermine trust. Its replacement with language and deeds that creates unity and confidence, will help.


3.3. Emigration could reduce South Africa’s skilled workers by more than 9 percent


The third principal finding of the survey was that emigration continues to pose a tangible threat to the South African economy. Whilst there is some cause for optimism, as the survey shows a decrease in the number of South Africans seriously contemplating emigration compared to the previous year, it remains concerning that 9.25 percent (down from 11.13 percent) of those with higher education expressed a serious intention to emigrate within the next two years. This is particularly alarming given the existing skills shortage in the country, as losing more than nine percent of highly educated individuals would deal a significant blow to the economy.


The trend is confirmed when cross correlating the results of South African incomes, where 9,01 percent (previous poll: 10,35 percent) of the top earners indicated that they were seriously considering emigrating in the next year or two. Apart from the impact that a loss of skills will have on the economy, the potential loss of tax to the fiscus resulting from the high-income earners’ departure needs to be borne in mind.


3.3.1. Similar trends across race groups


It appears that race is not a material driving force behind the motivation to emigrate, since similar trends are found amongst white and black South Africans. Whilst white South Africans still registered the highest interest in emigrating, namely 7,82 percent (previous poll: 11,72 percent), black South Africans at 6,72 percent (previous poll: 9,73 percent) were not far behind. Indian and coloured South Africans lagged somewhat behind their white and black compatriots. 5,48 percent (previous poll: 9,69 percent) of Indians and 5,25 percent (previous poll: 8,96 percent) of coloureds suggested that they wanted to emigrate.


Figure 3.11.: Percentage of population considering emigration – by race


3.3.2. Opportunity: the driving force


South Africans indicating their intention to emigrate were mainly driven by economic and personal well-being considerations. Three of the top five reasons for emigration suggested this. 23,18 percent (previous poll: 24,26 percent) of South Africans that indicated that they were considering emigration (22,86 percent of those with higher education and 16,90 percent of higher income earners) cited better job opportunities as the rationale for their consideration, whilst 9,79 percent (previous poll: 8,36 percent) suggested overall better opportunity and 9,69 percent (previous poll: 5,42 percent) cited a better life / standard of living as the reason. A failing South African state and bad governance were the other contenders in the top five.


Figure 3.12.: Top 5 reasons for emigrating


3.3.3. Younger people are the most vulnerable group


As may be expected, given the high youth unemployment statistics and greater flexibility of younger people to emigrate (e.g., single, early stage of career, still building asset base), the aspiration to emigrate seems to reduce the older people become. In this poll, as in the last poll, it still proves to be significantly so. More than two and a half times the South Africans in the 18–24-year-old category, considered emigrating than those South Africans over the age of 50.


The results of the poll show that as people get older, their intention to emigrate declines. In the category 18-24 years, 8,61 percent (previous poll: 15,91 percent) were considering emigration. In the category 25-34 years, it reduced to 7,98 percent (previous poll: 11,25 percent). In the category 35-49 years this went down to 6,27 percent (previous poll: 8,06 percent). And in the category 50 years and older it was only 3,46 percent (previous poll: 4,76 percent).


Figure 3.13.: Percentage of population considering emigrating – by age


3.3.4. Top five emigration destinations


It is mainly developed economies, and English-speaking countries, that seem to appeal to those considering emigration. The previous year’s outlier, Germany, which then came in third, was this year pipped by another outlier, Botswana. Germany still registered amongst the top five preferred destinations, whilst Canada fell out of the top five preferred destinations.


The top five emigration destinations are:


Table 3.4.: Top five emigration destinations


3.3.5. Conclusion


It appears that the number of South Africans considering emigration is on the decline.


Nevertheless, the country is still at risk of losing more than nine percent of its working-age population. Of even greater concern is the number of educated and high-income earners considering emigration. For any economy to lose so many of its qualified workforce is problematic, more so in an economy such as ours, which lacks skills and expertise.


The risk is real. The South African economy is not providing enough job opportunities for the educated and high-income earners to grow. This against a backdrop of developed economies – including those favoured most by South Africans – that have a qualified jobs deficit and are actively seeking especially qualified individuals to relocate to their shores.


The driving motivation behind emigration from South Africa appears, in the main, economic and well-being opportunity. There is little evidence in the poll to suggest that politics, race and/or cultural assimilation play much of a role in emigration decisions. But the perception of South Africa being a failed state and bad governance are issues that drive emigration.


The inherent danger that emigration holds for the current stagnant and job-losing South African economy, is that it is also driving too many qualified people abroad, which, in turn, because of the skills deficit in the economy, further reduces its ability to perform optimally. And optimal performance is needed to expand GDP and employment growth.


3.4. South Africans don’t sufficiently trust immigrants


As unemployment increases and the anti-immigrant narrative is heightened, mistrust between South Africans and immigrants from Africa has deepened in five of the country’s provinces. Nationally, just under two-thirds of South Africans indicated that they did not trust immigrants from Africa very much or at all.


In general, there is not enough trust in South Africa to sufficiently underpin social cohesion. But when it comes to the alarmingly high level of mistrust in immigrants from Africa, the country should tread carefully. The early signs of xenophobic instability show in the sporadic incidents of xenophobia in the country. The lack of trust runs across most dimensions, be it race, gender, age, education, income, or political party. The poll shows that no progress has been made since the previous year in improving the relationship between South Africans and foreigners, be they from Africa or other overseas countries.


3.4.1. Immigrants from Africa


Overall, only 31,21 percent (previous poll: 31,23 percent) of South Africans said they completely trusted or somewhat trusted immigrants from African countries, with only a slight differentiation between men and women. 62,72 percent (previous poll: 62,62 percent) of male and 62,37 percent (previous poll: 62,63 percent) of female South Africans either did not trust immigrants very much or at all. 6,07 percent did not indicate either way.


Figure 3.14.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting African immigrants – based on gender


- Based on race


Mistrust in immigrants from Africa deepened amongst South Africans from the Indian and coloured communities. 79,82 percent (previous poll: 57,9 percent) of Indian South Africans and 61,67 percent (previous poll: 54,87 percent) of coloured South Africans indicated that they did not trust immigrants from Africa very much or at all. The poll suggests that level of trust in immigrants from Africa remained more or less in line with the results from the previous poll. This was 60,29 percent (previous poll: 62,61 percent) and 62,57 percent (previous poll: 63,76) percent of white and black South Africans respectively.


- Based on education


The survey results suggest, however, albeit on the margins, that the more educated South Africans are, the more they are willing to trust African immigrants. 65,81 percent (previous poll: 68,27 percent) of South Africans with some high schooling either did not trust immigrants very much or at all. For those that had matric it improved to 61,66 percent (previous poll: 62,24 percent), and for those with higher education it was 61,18 percent (previous poll: 59,71 percent).


- Based on age and earnings


There is little differentiation to be made based on age, with all age bands recording a distrust (not very much or no trust) in the lower 60 percent range. Similarly, earnings did not appear to make much of a difference in South Africans’ attitudes, although there was a slight reduction as people’s earnings increased. The outlier was those with no earnings, who were far more trusting of immigrants from Africa than those with earnings.


- Based on political party support


Amongst supporters from the various political parties, South Africans from the FF+ in this poll once again emerged as the most trusting (with 53,97 percent – previous poll: 45,34 percent – either not trusting very much or at all), and from the IFP, whilst reducing, again the least trusting (75,98 percent – previous poll: 88,95 percent). Amongst the three largest parties, although still alarmingly high, the ANC was the most trusting, whilst the EFF was the least. 59,89 percent (previous poll: 59,57 percent) of ANC supporters, 62,5 percent (previous poll: 67,15 percent) of DA supporters and 67,43 percent (previous poll: 68,67 percent) of EFF supporters either did not trust immigrants from Africa very much or at all.


Figure 3.15.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting African immigrants – based on party affiliation


- Based on provinces


As was the case in the previous poll, in all but one province, the Free State, a majority of South Africans indicated that they do not trust immigrants from Africa very much or at all. The Northern Cape reflected a dramatic decline in trust in immigrants from Africa when compared to their attitudes in the previous poll.


Figure 3.16.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting African immigrants – based on provinces


3.4.2. Immigrants from outside of the African continent


Overall, only 32,41 percent (previous poll: 32,29 percent) of South Africans said they completely trusted or somewhat trusted immigrants from countries other than those from Africa, with only a slight differentiation between men and women. 62,05 percent (previous poll: 61,03 percent) of male and 61,46 percent (previous poll: 61,13 percent) of female South Africans either did not trust immigrants very much or at all.


- Based on race


Although still the majority of South Africans from the minority communities, they were significantly more trusting of immigrants from outside of Africa, than were their black compatriots. 56,7 percent (previous poll: 54,23 percent) of white South Africans, 68,68 percent (previous poll: 55,41 percent) of Indian South Africans and 61,76 percent (previous poll: 51,61 percent) of coloured South Africans indicated that they did not trust immigrants from countries outside of Africa very much or at all. This increased to 62,13 percent (previous poll: 63,37 percent) of black South Africans.


- Based on education


Once again, the survey results suggest that the more educated South Africans are, the more they are willing to trust immigrants. 65,51 percent (previous poll: 66,64 percent) of South Africans with some high schooling either did not trust immigrants from countries outside of Africa very much or at all. For those that had matric it improved to 61,39 percent (previous poll: 60,32 percent), and for those with higher education it was 57,87 percent (previous poll: 57,97 percent).


- Based on age and earnings


The lower the earnings the less the trust for immigrants from outside of Africa. In fact, the differentiation between the lowest earning band and the highest earning band is quite stark. For the lowest earning band, 69,77 percent of South Africans indicated that they did not trust immigrants from outside of Africa, whereas for the highest income band it improved to 58,83 percent.


Figure 3.17.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting immigrants from outside of Africa – based on earnings


- Based on political party support


Amongst supporters from the various political parties, South Africans from the FF+ again emerged as the most trusting (with 39,07 percent – previous poll: 47,79 percent) either not trusting very much or at all and the IFP still the least trusting (73,10 percent – previous poll: 90,37 percent). Amongst the three largest parties, although still very high, the ANC and DA were neck and neck as the most trusting, whilst the EFF was the least. 58,46 percent (previous poll: 59,84 percent) of ANC supporters, 58,33 percent (previous poll: 59,37 percent) DA and 65,06 percent (previous poll: 67,36 percent) of EFF supporters either did not trust immigrants from countries outside of Africa very much or at all.


Figure 3.18.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting non-African immigrants – based on party


Whilst South Africans from all parties other than the DA appear not to make much of a differentiation between immigrants from within or outside of Africa, the DA supporters were, by quite a large margin, more favourably disposed towards immigrants from outside of Africa, than they were for those from within Africa. In this regard, 67,43 percent (previous poll: 68,24 percent) of DA supporters indicated not very much or no trust in immigrants from Africa, whilst such sentiment improved to 58,33 percent (previous poll: 59,39 percent) distrust for those immigrants from outside of Africa.


- Based on provinces


Provincial responses are indicated in the figure below. As was the case in the last survey, the Free State remains the only province where under half of South Africans indicate that they trusted immigrants from outside of Africa. From a provincial perspective, the same trends remain, more or less, true for immigrants from outside of Africa as they do for those from within Africa.


Figure 3.19.: Percentage of South Africans not trusting non-African immigrants – based on provinces


3.4.3. Conclusion


There is a disquieting low level of trust between South Africans in all demographic groups, be it race, gender, age, education, income, political party or province, and immigrants from Africa. This does not bode well for social cohesion and presents a socio-political risk within an environment which is prone to xenophobic confrontation.


The authorities would do well to heed these warning signs and to ensure that social interventions are undertaken to improve relationships between the local and immigrant communities. This should be particularly high on the KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape agenda, although there are other provinces such as Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, where the levels of distrust are also disturbingly high.


It is in the interest of national stability that urgent attention be given to this predisposition of our society. For starters, the opportunistic negative political narrative needs to be reversed.


Whilst the general trend holds true for all South Africans not having a strong level of trust in immigrants, be they from Africa or outside of Africa, the notable differences are:


  • South Africans from the minority race groups are significantly better disposed towards immigrants from outside of Africa, than those from within Africa.

  • Whilst South African supporters from all political parties, bar the DA, have a similar disposition towards immigrants from both within and outside of Africa, the DA supporters are significantly better disposed towards immigrants that are from outside of Africa, than those from within Africa.


3.5. South Africans deeply distrust their compatriots from other parties


South Africans deeply distrust their fellow compatriots that do not belong to the same party as their own. This undermines social cohesion, and points to a high level of political naïveté, in that in a mature democracy people should be able to associate at the personal, workplace and societal level without overt hostility toward those who differ politically. This is particularly unsettling given the country’s past racial divisions, and party support that remains largely divided along racial lines. This needs to be overcome in order to achieve social cohesion and to build a united nation.


3.5.1. No party instils trust amongst a majority of South Africans


Evidence suggests that South Africans do not trust their fellow compatriots that do not share the same political conviction as themselves. This appears to hold true across all demographics, be it gender, age, income, or race. In examining the attitudes of South Africans drawn from the three largest political parties in Parliament, it was found that, across all parties, the majority of South Africans did not trust their fellow compatriots who did not share their own political convictions. Only 42,50 percent (previous poll: 43,26 percent) said that they could completely or somewhat trust people that supported the ANC, whilst this dropped to 33,54 percent (previous poll: 33,2 percent) for the DA and 35,40 percent (previous poll: 32,39 percent) for the EFF.


- Based on gender


In all instances, as is indicated in the table below, generally speaking, there was little differentiation to be drawn between the attitudes of men and women in this regard. Slightly more of those that could completely trust or somewhat trust supporters of the EFF, were men.


Table 3.5.: Trust in people from other parties – based on gender


- Based on age, education, race, and income


In terms of age, whilst the older South Africans were marginally more inclined to completely or somewhat trust their fellow South Africans from the ANC, the willingness to completely or somewhat trust people from the DA and EFF dropped significantly amongst the older South Africans.


Figure 3.20.: Percentage of people willing to trust compatriots from other parties – based on age


The more educated they were, the less they completely or somewhat trusted their fellow South Africans from the ANC. On the other hand, the more educated, the more they were prepared to completely or somewhat trust people from the DA, and to a certain extent that held true for the EFF as well.


Figure 3.21.: Percentage of people willing to trust compatriots from other parties – based on education


In terms of race, the ANC and EFF continue to suffer a material trust-deficit amongst the minority communities, whilst the DA continues to enjoy high trust amongst them. Whilst an outright majority of white and coloured South Africans indicated that they completely or somewhat trusted people that supported the DA, they do not trust supporters of the ANC or EFF in any significant numbers. Indian South Africans nudge towards a majority trusting their fellow DA compatriots, but not to the same extent as their white and coloured compatriots.


However, most black South Africans indicated that they did not completely or somewhat trust their fellow South Africans that supported any of the parties. 46,70 percent (previous poll: 48,35 percent) of blacks indicated that they completely or somewhat trusted people that support the ANC. The DA and EFF were way off the mark with only 27,09 percent (previous poll: 26,71 percent) of blacks indicating that they completely or somewhat trusted people that supported the DA, whilst for the EFF it was 39 percent (previous poll: 36,63 percent) of blacks.


Figure 3.22.: Percentage of people willing to trust compatriots from other parties – based on race


3.5.2. All parties enjoy a high percentage of trust amongst their own supporters


All three parties can take solace from the fact that they enjoy high trust (that is complete or somewhat trust) amongst those that support them. More so in this survey compared with the last survey. More than two-thirds of those South Africans that indicated that they support either of the parties indicated that they completely or somewhat trust their fellow party supporters.


Figure 3.23.: Percentage of people trusting supporters of the same party


3.5.3. But inter-party trust is completely lacking


From the responses recorded, it would appear that across the board South Africans who indicated that they support a particular party, completely or somewhat trust other people from that same party, but they completely distrust people from either of the other two parties. Trusting people from a party other than one’s own continues not to be a feature of the South African political environment.


Figure 3.24.: Percentage of South Africans willing to trust those from other parties


3.5.4. Conclusion


There appears to be a high level of distrust between the supporters of the various political parties, with the majority of supporters from all parties not being able to completely or somewhat trust their fellow compatriots based on their support for the other political parties.


Social cohesion requires citizens to work together and live contently and peacefully amongst their fellow citizens, regardless of their political, religious, or other differences. To this end, a high level of community trust in one’s fellow citizens is required.


The survey results suggest material distrust amongst the supporters of the various political parties in South Africa. This poses a risk to social cohesion which political and civil society leaders should take note of and factor into a more reconciling national narrative; and on which they should urgently act.


3.6. High sense of community provides solid foundation on which to build social cohesion


A strong sense of community is essential for social cohesion. When individuals within a community are invested in each other, they are more likely to come to the aid of their fellow citizens, protect their institutions, and support infrastructure during times of crisis. Additionally, economists have discovered a positive correlation between social cohesion and economic growth. This is due to the fact that social cohesion enhances both formal and informal institutions, which in turn stimulates economic growth (DIE, 2019).


In the survey, it was found that there is a strong sense of community in South African society. Whilst there are a number of disturbing indicators when it comes to the question of social cohesion in South Africa, this positive finding provides a solid foundation on which to build social cohesion in individual communities and the country as a whole.


3.6.1. People are involved in the communities


71,82 percent (previous poll: 75,07 percent) of South Africans agreed that it is important to get involved in the community where one lives. This sentiment was shared across all demographics – that is, gender, age, education, income, political party support and race.


- Gender


Male and female South Africans remained within one percentage point from each other, with 71,77 percent (previous poll: 75,49 percent) of males and 71,88 percent (previous poll: 74,68 percent) of females agreeing that it is important to get involved in one’s own community.


- Age


Across all age groups, there was a high degree of agreement that it was important to get involved in one’s own community. The commitment to get involved increased as people got older. In the age group 18-24, 71,92 percent (previous poll: 72,29 percent) of South Africans agreed, for the 25-34 age group it dropped slightly to 69,51 percent (previous poll: 74,66 percent) but rising again to 73,01 percent (previous poll: 75,88 percent) for the age group 35-49 and peaking at 73,17 percent (previous poll: 77,13 percent) for the 50 years and older group.


Figure 3.25.: Percentage of South Africans getting involved in the community – based on age


- Education


73,34 percent (previous poll: 68,69 percent) of those South Africans with a higher education agreed that it was important for people to get involved in their local communities. For those South Africans with no schooling, 61,52 percent (previous poll: 77,44 percent) were of the opinion that it is important to get involved in one’s community. For those with some high schooling, it was 71,58 percent (previous poll: 78,35 percent), and for those with matric, it was 71,59 percent (previous poll: 77,48 percent).


Figure 3.26.: Percentage of South Africans getting involved in the community – based on education


- Income


As income increased, the idea of getting involved in one’s community grew. For those South Africans in the low-income band, 66,44 percent (previous poll: 79,93 percent) were in agreement; for those in the middle-income band, it was 73,42 percent (previous poll: 77,83 percent), which peaked at 74,96 percent (previous poll: 73,32 percent) within the high-income band.


Figure 3.27.: Percentage of South Africans getting involved in the community – based on income


- Race


Whilst whites and blacks were neck and neck at 70,94 percent (previous poll: 74,14 percent) and 71,26 percent (previous poll: 74,04 percent), respectively, Indian and coloured South Africans in turn were neck and neck, but to a significantly higher degree. Indians recorded 78,62 percent (previous poll: 82,92 percent) agreement and coloureds 75,76 percent (previous poll: 82,16 percent) agreement with the belief that they should get involved in their communities.


Figure 3.28.: Percentage of South Africans getting involved in the community – based on race


- Political party


South Africans of all parties recorded a high level of agreement with the notion of getting involved in their communities. 79,49 percent (previous poll: 90,38 percent) of IFP supporters, the highest percentage, agreed therewith; whereas 76,48 percent (previous poll: 80,69 percent) of ANC supporters and 78,16 percent (previous poll: 81,31 percent) of DA supporters also agreed. Those from the EFF came in at 74,88 percent (previous poll: 75,38 percent), and from the FF+ it was 76,97 percent (previous poll: 71,22 percent).


Figure 3.29.: Percentage of South Africans getting involved in the community – based on party support


3.6.2. Money or active involvement?


45,70 percent (previous poll: 50,22 percent) of South Africans said they donated money to welfare and/or community organisations, whilst 46,84 percent (previous poll: 44,69 percent) opted for active work within these welfare and/or community organisations.


- Gender, income, and education


There was little differentiation to be made between the giving patterns of the various gender, income and education groups.


- Race


The pattern of donating money to local welfare and/or community organisations has changed. Whereas the minority communities previously gave money to a significantly greater extent than their black compatriots, they were now within reach of one another (with the coloured community being the most generous givers). In terms of working actively for the welfare and/or community organisations, the white, black and coloured South Africans tracked each other at a significantly higher level than their Indian compatriots, a reversal from the previous poll where the Indian community gave most in terms of active involvement. This is illustrated in the table below:


Table 3.6.: Comparative chart on giving patterns of the different race groups


3.6.3. Community organisations should get more support from local government


64,66 percent (previous poll: 67,38 percent) of South Africans indicated their belief that community organisations should get more support from local government. There was little differentiation between all demographic groups.


3.6.4. Conclusion


A high sense of community is as important for the economy as it is for social cohesion. The result of this survey suggests that this is indeed a feature of South African society. Communities across the country are highly involved in their local welfare and/or community organisations. The trend also holds true across all demographic groups, be they based on gender, age, education, income, race and/or political party support.


Given the far-reaching imbedded potential of government working with community organisations in the delivery of services, public policymakers will be well advised to explore deeper ways of partnering with local community organisations in the execution of its social programmes. In the community, there is a strong sense that in this regard, more can be done.


Chapter 4

Further discussion, assessment and recommendations


In this section we discuss in a summarised manner the findings of both the literature review into the elements, determinants and obstacles of social cohesion from the desktop study and that of the extensive GovDem Survey undertaken by the Inclusive Society Institute towards the end of 2022.


In Table 4.1. below, we evaluate social cohesion mainly from the perspective of the characteristics of social cohesion as discovered in the literature review. In certain respects, we have added the findings of the survey as further motivation for our interpretation. Where the evidence, in our view, points to conditions that are conducive to promoting social cohesion, it has been recorded as a positive (+). And where the evidence, in our view, points to conditions that are not conducive to promoting social cohesion, it has been recorded as a negative (-). The interpretation may be somewhat subjective in nature but is adequately corroborated within the detailed findings reported on in section 2 and 3 of this report.


None of the elements or determinants required for social cohesion are being adequately met, and only one of the eight obstacles to social cohesion is being met (albeit that the detailed findings suggest room for improvement).


Table 4.1.: Assessment of conditions that promote social cohesion


In Table 4.2. below, we evaluate social cohesion from the perspective of the three foundational requirements for social cohesion as identified by the Institute: demographic integration, a sense of connectedness to the country, and a sense of community. The basis for the interpretation is the findings from the aforementioned GovDem Poll. Once again, where the results of the survey, as it relates to demographic integration and sense of community, where the majority sentiment was positive, it was recorded as a positive (+). And where the majority sentiment was negative, it was recorded as a negative (-). In terms of a sense of connectedness, the only test was that of emigration. In this regard any loss of skills and capital should be avoided. Whilst single digit percentages may be argued one way or the other, double-digit percentages in an environment lacking skills and capital, will certainly be an indication of a problem.


In terms of demographic integration, two of the four criteria tested were recorded as positive. In terms of a sense of connectedness to the country, 9 percent of skilled and high-income workers indicated that they were considering emigrating, thereby attracting a negative score. And in terms of a sense of community, two out of the six trust tests secured a positive finding, one was borderline and three were negative.


Table 4.2.: Evaluating social cohesion in terms of demographic integration, connectedness and community


The empirical evidence provided through the GovDem survey illustrates a disturbing trend within South African society of mistrust – in government and in each other – and a lack of solidarity and confidence in the country’s future. However, this survey also shows that the people in South Africa agree that the country should cohere. Through the establishment and pursuit of social cohesion by all spheres of government, business and civil society, trust can be re-established. Plagues such as inequality can then be confronted multi-dimensionally, backed by a social compact.


Strong social cohesion will achieve more than just ‘moral regeneration’; in the face of harsh global economic challenges, it will also create space for the government to manoeuvre. There is hope that South Africa’s trajectory of ballooning inequality and shrivelling economic growth can be about-faced, but only if we can re-establish trust in our institutions and political leaders – and in each other. Public policymakers and civil society would do well to anchor their strategies in social cohesion, as it remains the foundation of a united and prosperous nation.


In fact, the National Development Plan 2030 situates social cohesion at the centre of South Africa’s socio-economic transformation agenda. It is hoped that this report will offer those tasked with reconciling and building our nation a timeous tool for evaluating the state of the transformation towards a cohesive and economically viable country. The report is meant to function as a bridge to creating a more meaningful, growthful and inclusive society, a route from a divided past to a shared future.


The Inclusive Society Institute is committed to further developing this route, in the form of a Social Cohesion Index, or Radar, which will assist public policymakers in assessing, monitoring, and furthering social cohesion more effectively. Annually, this measuring instrument would give them the capacity to have their finger on the pulse of social cohesion – on how it has either progressed or regressed – identifying and attending to real time and potential threats to the relationships between South Africa and its people.


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This report has been published by the Inclusive Society Institute

The Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) is an autonomous and independent institution that functions independently from any other entity. It is founded for the purpose of supporting and further deepening multi-party democracy. The ISI’s work is motivated by its desire to achieve non-racialism, non-sexism, social justice and cohesion, economic development and equality in South Africa, through a value system that embodies the social and national democratic principles associated with a developmental state. It recognises that a well-functioning democracy requires well-functioning political formations that are suitably equipped and capacitated. It further acknowledges that South Africa is inextricably linked to the ever transforming and interdependent global world, which necessitates international and multilateral cooperation. As such, the ISI also seeks to achieve its ideals at a global level through cooperation with like-minded parties and organs of civil society who share its basic values. In South Africa, ISI’s ideological positioning is aligned with that of the current ruling party and others in broader society with similar ideals.


Phone: +27 (0) 21 201 1589

Web: www.inclusivesociety.org.za

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