Today the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) releases the latest in its series of Hope Reports as part of its campaign to unite the moderate majority of South Africans.
This series of reports examines the real state of race relations in South Africa, and the latest edition confirms that, contrary to what some would have us believe, the country is not on the brink of a race war.
Titled Unite the Middle, the report shows that South Africans have far more in common than not, irrespective of their racial or class backgrounds.
Indeed, the report finds that most people do not regard racism as one of the biggest threats facing the country, and that they believe race relations have improved since the end of apartheid in 1994. Nearly six-in-ten South Africans believe that race relations have got better since 1994. At the same time, a similar proportion said that they had never personally experienced racism.
Rather, job creation, combating crime and corruption, and improving education are the things most South Africans believe should be the government’s priorities.
Perhaps the most positive finding is that nearly 90% of South Africans believe the different race groups need each other for progress. This is true for some 86% of black survey respondents, over 90% of white and coloured respondents, and every Indian person surveyed.
This report gives credence to the claim that there is a large moderate middle in South African politics who reject race politics, and believe that co-operation between people of different backgrounds is the necessary condition of a successful future in South Africa.
The IRR is working to unite this moderate majority in a coalition of people who are opposed to race-based laws and divisive politicians, and want to build a country that works for all who live in it. South Africans who are part of the moderate middle are encouraged to endorse the IRR’s Unite the Middle pledge, which can be found here.
We invite members of the public to recommend to the IRR any organisation or individual willing to take a stand so that we can unite them in a broad common front.
Members of the moderate middle are also encouraged to report to the IRR any organisations which discriminate on the basis of race or any other immutable characteristic.
South Africans averted disaster in the 1980s and early 1990s by putting aside their (skin-deep) differences and working together to build a new democracy. South Africans are called on once again to put aside their differences and work together to create a country that is inclusive and works for all who live in it. The IRR’s aim is to unite the 80% of moderate South Africans behind this goal.
We believe this is possible. The Unite the Middle report shows that far more unites than divides us.