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Social Cohesion: Taking stock of South Africa's socio-political strategy

Occasional Paper 5/2022

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Inclusive Society Institute or those of their respective Board or Council members.

JUNE 2022

by Dr Klaus Kotzé

BA Social Dynamics, BSocSci Honours Political Communication, Master in Global Studies, PhD Rhetoric Studies


This paper discusses the meaning and significance of social cohesion in South African democracy. Social cohesion, vis-à-vis the social division or exclusion that formed the basis of historical South Africa, is foundational to South Africa’s constitutional project. It presents a national standard; a useful lens through which to analyse national progress and the achievement of the national ends. With South Africa’s persistence as being one of the world’s most unequal countries[1], social cohesion as a concept can become trite. Instead, it deserves candid examination.

This paper will briefly probe and explain how social cohesion forms part of the constitutional project, before looking at factors that are impeding it. This work then draws on existing investigations undertaken by the Inclusive Society Institute (the Institute)[2], with the purpose of assessing and advancing social justice and cohesion. Instead of discarding it as a quasi-conceptual or unproductive term, it is the belief of the Institute, that social cohesion holds an important place in national transformation. A critical approach is required to ensure that it evolves as a term of transformative consequence.

Social cohesion: Setting the scene

Conceptual social cohesion differs from place to place. Whereas other countries see social cohesion reactively as an adaptation to increasing multi-culturalism, in South Africa the concept occupies a strategic quality. Here, it should not be assessed simply as a response to fears of xenophobia or social dominance. Instead, the advance of social cohesion and nation-building lie at the heart of the post-apartheid South African project. It has deeply contextual significance. It is shaped by history.

Whereas distinction and discrimination were the modalities of governance under colonialism and apartheid, the transformation towards a cohesive and just society has been the overarching national strategy since the accord between political opponents gave rise to the democratic and constitutional order. Driving unity in diversity, advancing a single, legitimate national society from where before there was a divided, illegitimate pseudo nation, is the central strategic function in South Africa. The drive towards social cohesion, therefore, forms the basis for overcoming a past where people were divided, excluded primarily on their race, but also on their religion, gender and other social features.

Social cohesion is a term with both descriptive and prescriptive meaning. It is understood as “the ongoing process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunity … based on a sense of hope, trust, and reciprocity”[3]. A socially cohesive society is one where there is an absence of conflict based on race, gender, ethnicity and other social markers. It is one where there is no great discrepancy based on wealth or access to education, health and other services. Instead, there are social bonds that create the experience of a shared reality. A society where people “feel a sense of belonging, that they perceive the whole society as greater than the parts, and when differences develop, they can be dealt with peacefully”[4].

The emphasis on “shared” suggests that such a society must take a singular form; either becoming united or advancing an existing social unison. Social cohesion is therefore a prescriptive term that achieves its end by promoting values and policies that reduce difference. According to the OECD, a cohesive society is one that advances the well-being of everyone in society, “fights (all forms) of exclusion and marginalisation, creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and offers its people the opportunity of upward mobility”[5].

From the previous research conducted by the Institute, we see that there are several determinants that drive or obstruct social cohesion. These determinants include racial diversity, economic inequality and historical events[6]. In all of the above, there are clear divisions whereby trust, identity and social cohesion are determined. The group subjugated to the conditions or policies listed above, are either locked out or experience long-term negative impacts. This results in a rejection of the existing social values and institutions. They experience social conditions as benefiting others, not them. Or they simply reject social cohesion as assisting in the pursuit of their needs. This rejection can take the form of protests among populist formulations. We return to this later.

The South African story

Historically, South Africa’s social organisation is marked by division. Before social cohesion could be pursued, the socio-political structure had to be fundamentally changed. Installing non-racial democracy in 1994 conjured the proverbial rainbow nation. The concept of the rainbow nation has recently received considerable rebuke. Its use, as an appeal, is however misplaced. The rainbow nation, or the rainbow people of God, as introduced by Desmond Tutu, did not suggest socio-economic equality between different groups, therefore that transformation had been achieved. Instead, by installing a social arrangement where for the first time all people were politically and legally equal, it allowed for the potential to transform. Social cohesion was central to enabling transformation.

The ending of apartheid did not summarily achieve social cohesion. Instead, equal rights, for the first time, created a shared reality whereby everybody would not only be enfranchised, but also tasked with the role of continuously overcoming the various divisions of the past. The Constitution, as the foundational text of the emergent South Africa, serves as the guide, as well as the infrastructure, towards the transformed society. It does so through its programme of aspirational norms and principles. In its preamble and with its first words, ‘We, the people of South Africa,’ the Constitution both presents the foundational argument towards building something new and surmounts the divided past by establishing a singular ‘We’ that comprises all peoples. The past as well as the future not only belongs to but is also established by all people in their collective ways.

The Constitution provides a normative as well as structural guide for this social development. It is the bedrock for transformation. A technology of and towards social cohesion. The Constitution deftly delegitimises any path for social discord based on racial or other divisions. By rejecting the means and ways that measure and partition according to difference, something new is built. The Constitution calls on all South Africans to “heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”[7]. In addition to establishing unison between all people, the phrases of the preamble also instruct all of those who comprise the ‘We’, to “recognise the injustices of our past … believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”[8].

Social cohesion – and by extension, social justice – is set up to be achieved through an active rejection of the former national strategy. According to Former Chief Justice Pius Langa, the Constitution presents “a space between an unstable past and an uncertain future”[9]. It is thus a technology that connects and coheres a society which before was forced apart. This technology is referred to in the Interim Constitution of 1993 as a bridge: “This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence and development opportunities for all South Africans”[10].

The Constitution plays an important role in formalising much of the myth upon which South Africa is founded – including the myth that South Africa is somehow special, a democratic miracle, where the indignity of apartheid was replaced by a rainbow nation. The bridge functions as a system of meaning making. It does not coldly separate from the past, thereby denying or forgetting, but instead, it maintains the past as reference, connecting it with the future. In doing so, it establishes a singular normative pathway that binds everyone in society. All people must cross the same bridge, must take ownership of and pride in the national symbols, the national myths and the national heroes. Enacting the vision of a singular nation, and thereby arriving in a shared future.

Social cohesion as the method to transcend divisions has a deeply political grounding in South Africa. It is useful to note that the apartheid government tried for some time to maintain power under the promise of reform. It sought, through various political manoeuvres, to legitimate its maintenance of power in a new, reformed political reality. Its plan required “a (conservative) black middle class that could be co-opted into ‘managing’ urban black townships within the envisaged consociational model”[11]. This co-option of a credible, yet pliant black leadership, as embodied in the titular representation of coloureds and Indians in the Tricameral Parliament, alongside black leaders in homelands, was a tactic that recognised the power and importance of cohesion or acceptance between different social groupings. A tactic to maintain legitimacy.

“While government motioned to legitimate representation, achieving a new political normalcy was prevented by its own mechanisms, which denied authoritative black input and therefore real negotiation”[12]. The governing party failed to persuade that it could reform into one, a system it essentially held apart. Its approach of division fundamentally rebuffed real social cohesion, thereby leading to its fundamental delegitimation. It was only when the National Party’s strategy fundamentally changed, when instead it sought to advance the effective participation of all in a singular political regime, that the political settlement became conceivable.

At the time of the political negotiations, the political basis was racial division. The significant pressure from both white conservative and radical black groupings sought to maintain this order. Neither of these groupings advanced a shared national project. It was, therefore, on the grounds of accepting a shared future, in a single country (as motioned in the future Constitution), that the opposing political forces of the erstwhile government and the liberation movement led by the African National Congress coalesced and agreed on a political settlement. The pursuit of a single, coherent nation became the measure on which South African political legitimacy would be based. Under the brokered political settlement, the party controlling the political arena would be the vanguard not only of a specific group, but of all people. Central to sustained legitimacy would be their commitment to social cohesion. This pursuit embodies government’s fulfilment of the social contract.

Under the Constitution, the government is tasked with formulating and implementing policies that transform South Africa towards marked equality. At the turn to democracy, social cohesion lay at the heart of political decision-making – appeasing different social groups and bringing all into the Constitutional ‘We,’ so as to maintain order and political legitimacy.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) presented the foremost programme of transitioning from the past. Through legislation, confessing perpetrators of the apartheid regime were afforded clemency and crossed the proverbial bridge. The TRC, together with various government programmes, such as the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP) and the Social Cohesion Framework, all rely on citizens to enact the transformed nation. The approach of government is clear: it proposes the plans, it details what social cohesion and nation-building means[13], while the act of cohering resides with the populace.

The rhetoric around the social compact, the citizenry’s activation of social cohesion, has returned to the spotlight under the Ramaphosa administration. The current South African president is perhaps the loudest proponent of a renewed and emboldened social compact[14]. Encouraging public participation in enacting the constitutional vision is central to his strategy, which he has said is the same strategy as President Mandela. Under Mandela, as is the case under Ramaphosa, the governing party “frames the measurement of social cohesion as the demonstration or enactment of a unitary South African identity, the persistent move to instantiate the centrality of liberation heroes and the liberation movement through place renaming, for example, appears rational and even necessary”[15]. The command of this strategic narrative has narrowed to be one overly associated with ANC as political party and its leaders. Instead of having direct bearings on the lives of people, social cohesion has arguably become a rehashed buzzword.

According to Abrahams, the academic and commentator Raymond Suttner has suggested that the “social cohesion framework can be seen as an extension of the completed yet rehearsed narrative of liberation. Seen in this way, Suttner suggests that social cohesion continues the historic mission of the liberation movement in South Africa, causing the political party – the ANC – to become the vanguard of ‘nation’”[16]. The control or dominance of the South African project as exhibited by the governing party’s ideology propounds that the citizenry adopts the same liberationist position that it does. The ANC so construed dominates the national vision, it “does not envisage much space for independent identities”[17].

There are many contradictions in the ANC today. The tension between dominating the national vision and seeking citizen command is one such contradiction. The pursuit of the Ramaphosa administration, to attain endorsement from the country’s people, suggests that the tensions in the ANC and the weaknesses of the state are too great. While the Ramaphosa administration seeks broad contribution to building the state, another part of the ANC pursues total control in line with the party’s belief that it is the vanguard of the (ongoing) liberation.

This approach, while purporting to champion the constitutional prerogative of social cohesion, does so in a manner which measures transformational progress according to strictly ideological terms. This pursuit of representation according to quantity and not quality, often appeases ideology while not having a direct bearing on national transformation in terms of social justice.

According to Abrahams, concepts such as nation-building have been more about the pageantry of governmental power than the empowerment of people. Instead of a truly transformative social agenda, South African social cohesion has been rather superficial. “Social cohesion as a concept needs to be redeemed from the tropes of nation-building; the wider value of the concept is at stake, as is the actual practice of a truly socially cohesive country by all members of society, all political parties and all ideologues”[18]. The NDP clearly states that “social cohesion needs to anchor the strategy. If South Africa registers progress in deracialising ownership and control of the economy without reducing poverty and inequality, transformation will be superficial. Similarly, if poverty and inequality are reduced without demonstrably changed ownership patterns, the country’s progress will be turbulent and tenuous”[19].

Accordingly, social cohesion is equivocal to the realisation of socio-economic transformation. “Unless there is real material transformation in the lives of those who have been apartheid’s victims,” warned Desmond Tutu, “we might just as well kiss reconciliation goodbye. It just won’t happen without some reparation”[20].

Rejections of social cohesion

From what has been discussed here, there is clearly a tension between the power, ideological and tactical purposes of social cohesion in South Africa. Furthermore, the concept, and the aspiration towards it, has been damaged by what is seen as the pageantry of nation-building and its failure to correspond to material concerns. People do not actively cohere with others when others benefit without them or benefit at their expense. In South Africa, the rejection of social cohesion as foremost strategy has taken several pathways. One such pathway is broadly considered as xenophobic nationalism. This has various components; its rejection of social cohesion has historical, political and economic foundations. The following description is brief and by no means comprehensive.

In South Africa, xenophobic nationalism sees locals taking their socio-economic grievances out on migrants from other African countries. Africans who reside in or operate businesses in proximity to South Africans have been targeted. Whereas black South Africans traditionally have a deep history of solidarity with and appreciation for the role that Africa played in South Africa’s liberation, it is this group that has become most vocal and violent towards migrants. There have been various waves of xenophobic attacks, with the most lethal taking place in 2008 when 62 people lost their lives[21].

These xenophobic attacks have been suggested to be caused by people taking violent action to protect their interests. Suggested reasons why African migrants are the victims include their cultural difference to the in-group where they live. They are seen as taking lower paid jobs and are accused of criminal activities, including the drug trade. But the central reason for xenophobic nationalism is poverty[22]. The people undertaking xenophobic attacks are seen as turning to these actions out of desperation. Instead of seeing the desperation of their victims, they blame them of illicit undertakings or for simply being in South Africa illegally[23]. Their antagonism to coherence is based on their own poverty; their dissatisfaction of their socio-economic reality is passed down the line and onto another victim.

The recent rise of the Operation Dudula movement and the anti-constitutionalist Radical Economic Transformation (RET) segment aligned to the governing party are illustrations of an evolving socio-political situation in South Africa. Operation Dudula is a South African nationalist movement that undertakes protest and active citizenry measures against illegal foreign nationals and their perceived illicit behaviour. The movement has been accused of vigilantism, whereas they say that they are taking action where government has failed. Their rise stems from unaddressed frustration and worsening conditions.

The movement introduces a new dynamic to modern South Africa, one where fringe groups do not wait for the political establishment to lead but does so themselves. Theirs is not first an unwillingness to adopt social cohesion, but a re-articulation of its meaning. Not a denial of the social contract but giving up on the previous order, so as to establish something new. As there are various factors playing into this re-articulation of the social contract, it is still too early to see what kind of role it will have on the broader political establishment.

In a related but different development, there has been an increasing movement from within the political establishment, and particularly the ANC, to reject the political settlement of the early 1990s in favour of radical economic transformation. The strategy of this grouping is to realign the governing party to more aggressive redistribution and away from norms and values that underpin cohesion. The radical revolutionary approach sees the constitutional order more as an obstacle than a conduit towards equality. According to some reports, this grouping has turned away from its earlier strategy of blaming white people[24] for the poverty and inequality in South Africa. With slogans such as “put South Africa first” channelling Trumpist ethno-nationalism, there has been a shift towards attributing responsibility for the nation’s ills to African migrants.

The overarching motive here is not only to find a scapegoat, but to denounce social cohesion as the foundation to the national project. It seeks to dislocate equality and a rights-based order, subjugating social ends to the deeply material ends of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) grand strategy. The NDR seeks to bring about a national democratic society characterised by: “the resolution of antagonistic contradictions between the oppressed majority and their oppressors; as well as the resolution of the national grievance arising from the colonial relations”[25]. The advance of these economic resolutions does not require social cohesion, nor do these resolutions have to abide by legal or normative prescriptions.

The populist claim of these revolutionaries, of which former President Jacob Zuma and his coterie are central, suggests that the “constitutional order is ineffective in achieving the revolutionary ends of the liberation movement … To Zuma, the constitutional state was always a means towards the ends of the revolution. Unconstrained political power, where the ends justify the means, is therefore the superior and legitimate approach”[26]. Those advancing this view have increasingly sought to equate the democratic state to the unjust, illegitimate apartheid state – seeking to break down its foundational legitimacy and subvert order to disorder.

The looting and destruction that took place a few days after Zuma’s incarceration, in July 2021, exemplifies the subversion of the constitutional order to the materialist ends of the NDR. The populism manifested here was calculated. Looters did not have to be Zuma acolytes to act as foot soldiers of this strategy. Looters became agents of sedition, subverting the ends of the state to that of the revolution. “Amid the destructive plunder, where lives were lost and infrastructure and property were decimated, thousands of poor people returned home with items they would otherwise not ordinarily have had access to. It was under these conditions, the juncture between order and disorder, that thousands of South Africans gained materially and saw the ends of the political power of radical economic transformation”[27].

Measuring social cohesion in South Africa: Some findings

The grievances detailed above are substantial. While these grievances take different forms and perform different motives, the mission of social cohesion remains central to the national strategic interest. To get a more detailed and more nuanced understanding of the broad nature and impact of social cohesion in South Africa, it is important to undertake analyses among diverse groups. Since social cohesion is an active exercise involving the building of shared values or shared enterprise, one can get a better idea by measuring these relationships between peoples.

The following section draws from the ongoing research undertaken by the Institute.

First, social cohesion is here understood as “the notion that relationships among members and groups in society are sufficiently good and that all feel a sense of belonging, that they perceive the whole society as greater than the parts, and when differences develop, they can be dealt with peacefully”[28].

The Institute has identified certain dimensions and factors that are central to its research on the field. The key dimensions regarding social cohesion, as first defined by Langer et al.[29] in their Social Cohesion Index, include inequality, trust and identity.

  • Inequality refers to the extent of perceived inequalities within and across groups, which can manifest itself in various forms, such as economic, social, political, or cultural disparities. Social cohesion is threatened when there are high levels of inequalities within a society because it erodes the relationships within that society, which, in turn, may cause conflict. One often-used reference to inequality is the Gini coefficient, which measures national inequality. According to the World Bank, South Africa ranks as the most unequal country in the world.

  • Trust is the ‘glue’ that holds societies together. When trust is missing between members of society, it weakens the ability of individuals and groups to cooperate peacefully and to collaborate in order to achieve inclusive economic growth. Mistrust towards state institutions may, for example, fuel violent protests, and similarly, mistrust between individuals and/or groups may cause aggressive behaviour towards each other. South Africans have relatively low trust in the state.

  • Identity relates to whether people have a stronger adherence to their national identity vis-à-vis their group or ethnic identity. This is particularly applicable in multi-ethnic communities, more so in countries with a colonial history, such as South Africa. Its fractured history has made the forging of a united, common identity a difficult task.

Some of the Institute’s findings on social cohesion in South Africa include[30]:

  1. South Africans remain committed to social cohesion as encapsulated in the national motto, ‘Unity in Diversity’. But nearly half of the South African population doubts whether the different groups in South Africa would be able to form a single nation. Instead, they believe that they can unite, live and work together, as fellow South Africans. 47,96 percent (nearly half) of South Africans either agreed or strongly agreed with the notion that it is not possible to form one nation out of all the different groups in the country. This finding held true across all race groups, with whites being slightly more inclined to believe it possible, and coloured people being the most doubtful. 42,7 percent of white South Africans thought is not possible to form one nation, whilst 47,45 percent of black South Africans, 54,55 percent of Indians and 55,77 percent of coloured South Africans also thought so. There was little differentiation between age and gender groupings.

  2. It is encouraging that most South Africans agree that there is reason and need to unite as a nation. Most were of the opinion that it was important for all South Africans to unite. 70,53 percent of South Africans either agreed or strongly agreed with this notion, whilst only 13,15 percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed. 2,75 percent did not know.

  3. More people agree than disagree that reconciliation is moving in the right direction. 44,97 percent of South Africans agree or strongly agree that it is moving in the right direction, as opposed to 27,54 percent who disagree or strongly disagree. 21,27 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, and 6,22 percent did not know how they felt about it.

  4. A significant degree of racial integration exists in everyday life. The survey suggests that there is a relatively high level of integration between the various race groups in the country when it comes to everyday life activities. Moreover, the integration appears to not be forced integration, but rather of a voluntary nature, where there was a high level of enjoyment flowing from such integration and friendships being formed. The statistics indicate that the black community is slightly lagging in terms of integration. This should be understood within the socio-economic context of South Africa, where the majority of the poor and jobless are black and, thus, not within the workplace or able to participate in extra-mural social activities to the same extent as the employed and socially mobile. What the statistics do tell us, is that the majority of South Africans have commenced the journey towards reconciliation, nation-building and social cohesion.

  5. Though it may be declining, racial bias is still prevalent in society. Nearly a third (33,44%) of adult South Africans still do not like associating themselves with people from other population groups. This would suggest that the country has still some way to go before it can consider itself to be fully reconciled.

  6. Racial political narrative differs from reality. There is a disconnect between the general negative political racial narrative which drives division, and the realities of everyday South Africans going about their daily business. While many in the political establishment seem to be fuelling division, citizens, in turn, are finding each other at the human level.

  7. The trust needed to underpin social cohesion is largely absent in South Africa. While they have high levels of trust in their families and neighbouring communities, South Africans do not sufficiently trust their compatriots from outside their lived environment. The lack of trust runs across most dimensions, be it race, gender, age, education, or income. South Africans do not trust at first sight. Across the board, there exists distrust between races. Instead, trust only develops after relationships are built. The more people integrate, the more trust will develop.

  8. In general, South Africans do not trust people from Africa or other overseas countries. This is particularly important in relation to xenophobia in the country. The lack of trust runs across most dimensions, be it race, gender, age, education, income, or political party. Overall, only 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. 62,62 percent of male and 62,63 percent of female South Africans either did not trust immigrants very much or at all.

  9. Trust between South Africans is at a low level. This is the case with all demographic groups, be it race, gender, age, education, income, political party, or province, and immigrants. This does not bode well for social cohesion and presents a socio-political risk within an environment which is prone to xenophobic confrontation.

  10. South Africans deeply distrust fellow compatriots who do not belong to the same political 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 freely at the personal, workplace and societal levels without overt hostility towards 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. All of the political parties enjoy significant trust from their own supporters.

  11. There is a strong sense of community within groups. Social cohesion requires a high sense of community. It is when a community is socially invested in each other that they will come to the defence of its people, its institutions and infrastructure in times of need, threat or tragedy. Furthermore, economists find a positive relationship between social cohesion and economic growth, on the basis that social cohesion improves formal and/or social institutions, which causally drives economic growth.

Conclusion: The centre holds, but for how long?

The various challenges that have been shown to undermine social cohesion suggest that programmes that do not have a direct bearing on material concerns, such as nation-building, will increasingly be used to undermine the advance of social cohesion. Whereas social cohesion and nation-building receive increasing criticism as soft issues, this perception is made without sufficient historical-political regard. It is not seen for the strategic foundation it lays; the transformation put forward in the Constitution.

There is, however, sufficient reason to criticise what has become the customary approach to social cohesion – the cursory, yet dominant, approach adopted by the governing alliance. The gaps in the returns on investment are clear; socio-economic inequality persists. The rich and historically privileged have maintained that privilege, whereas the poor, while being asked to uphold their side of the social contract, have not seen appropriate returns. Though there remains the wish for equity and cohesion among the different groups, the trust required is diminished. All groups feel that they deserve more, they share the mistrust – that government cannot strategically improve the lives of all. Whereas the rich can install security or leave for perceived greener pastures, some among the poor have turned to mobilising around populist and xenophobic programmes.

Persistent poverty and inequality demand interventions that ensure greater material benefit. Though movements such as Operation Dudula and RET advance different objectives, their appeal to the man on the street is the same: the status quo does not serve them, it must be disrupted. Furthermore, while it is concerning to see vigilantism and sedition, there is broad proof that the majority of South Africans respect the constitutional norms and values. Though the riots last July were disastrous, they did not spread throughout the country. And when they calmed down, there was an enormous response from South Africans across racial and other divides to condemn these actions and to stand in solidarity with the victims.

Further proof can be drawn from the recent municipal elections and especially from the national elections in 2019. The election results show that, unlike some nations around the world, particularly those in Europe, the extreme parties failed to draw significant support. Despite the enormous challenges faced, South African politics appear to mature towards the middle. The threat of splintering towards radical fringe parties has not materialised. As indicated above, social cohesion remains the foundation to a united and prosperous nation. Most South Africans believe this to be true.

Though there is significant mistrust among people and in the government, the people in South Africa agree that the country should cohere. It is, however, clear that social cohesion without social justice can only be temporary. While social cohesion might have been foundational to the formation of democratic South Africa, social justice will be foundational to its continued existence.


[1] Inclusive Society Institute. 2022. ‘Measuring Social Cohesion in South Africa: Results from the Inclusive Society Institute’s 2021 GovDem survey’, Forthcoming [2] Ibid [3] Human Sciences Research Council. 1998. ‘Social Cohesion and Social Justice in South Africa’ [4] Langer, A. et al. 2017. ‘Social Cohesion Index’ [5] SFRI, n.d. ‘What is Social Cohesion?’ [6] Ibid, 1 [7] South African Constitution [8] Ibid [9] Langa, P. 2006, ‘Transformative constitutionalism’, Stellenbosch Law Review 351 at 354 [10] Interim Constitution (n 10) [11] Louw, E. 2004. ‘The Rise, Fall, and Legacy of Apartheid’, London: Praeger, p94 [12] Kotzé, K. 2018. ‘Strategies of White Resilience: From Apartheid to installing democracy,’ African Yearbook of Rhetoric, 8, p55 [13] Chapter 15 of the NDP is titled ‘Nation Building and Social Cohesion’ [14] Kotzé, K. 2019. ‘Cyril Ramaphosa’s strategic presidency,’ Defence Strategic Communications, 7 [15] Abrahams, C. 2021. ‘Social Cohesion as Imposition of National Identity’, Lesedi, 24, p25 [16] Abrahams, C. 2016. ‘Twenty Years of Social Cohesion and Nation-Building in South Africa,’ Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(1): 95 – 107 [17] Suttner, R. 2011. ‘Revisiting the National Democratic Revolution (NDR): The national question’ [18] Abrahams, Twenty years of Social Cohesion, 107 [19] National Development Plan, p17 [20] Tutu, D. 2000. ‘No Future Without Forgiveness’, p182 [21] Matunhu, J. 2011. ‘Revisiting the May 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa’, African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies, 5(2) [22] Ibid [23] Ibid [24] The term ‘White Monopoly Capital’ has infamously been adopted to pin responsibility for the nation’s ills on white people [25] African National Congress. ‘Umrabulo’, National Policy Conference, July 1997 [26] Kotzé, K. 2021. ‘Jacob Zuma’s treasonous strategy,’ Daily Maverick, 12 July [27] Ibid [28] Langer et al. [29] Ibid [30] Inclusive Society Institute. ‘Measuring Social Cohesion in South Africa’

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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



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