Survey reveals we're all just as worried as our President is about the state of our nation

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Community AffairsCurrent AffairsGovernment Political Issues

It’s not just President Ramaphosa who is worried about the state of our nation, so too do the majority of online South Africans. This is according to insights from ovatoyou’s What’s Next South Africa survey that was published in December of last year. 

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Based on a sample of 2 000, it revealed that across 9 different categories, the issues that are most likely to keep us up at night are, in order: unemployment, crime, poverty, corruption, the economy, coronavirus, drug & alcohol abuse, climate change as well as TB & HIV. 

What’s plaguing the nation?
“Last week’s SONA highlighted our major issues as a country, all of which have greatly been exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the President said, among our most pressing, is the significant increase in unemployment; there were 1,7-million fewer people employed in the third quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter and our unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 30,8%,” comments Amanda Reekie, ovatoyou Founding Director.

While online South Africans are aligned with Ramaphosa, there were a few noteworthy nuances with regards to what different demographic groups considered their most important: White and Indian or Asian South Africans ranked crime as the highest, followed by unemployment, but differed when it came to corruption; whites ranked this issue third while Indians and Asians ranked it fourth. Meanwhile, those earning a HHI of between R10k and R30k pm ranked unemployment and crime as their two main concerns for our country. 

Interestingly no group ranked the coronavirus among their top four concerns; although those who were 18 – 24 years’ old ranked it highest on their list, in fifth place. 
“While this seems counterintuitive, it makes sense as this demographic had the highest proportion of low income and Black respondents who potentially have the least access to healthcare,” comments Reekie. 

A corrupt, and unequal society 
The rise in poverty is also high on everyone’s agendas: it was a leading theme at SONA while the majority of online South Africans reported it as a key concern for the country. “In addressing this, the President’s extension of the R350 grant is a welcome initiative, as it provides cash directly to the poorest households,” says Reekie. 
She goes on to say that instances of poverty also lead to the widening inequality gap. “According to Eighty20’s, Fact-A-Day, South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world, where a mere 3,500 people control more wealth than the bottom 90% of the country which only control 14% of all wealth.”

Further, a leading theme for both Ramaphosa and the sample was our rampant corruption levels, which the President said was “the greatest impediment to our country’s growth and development.” The nefarious PPE deals are a case in point: According to the recently launched Special Investigating Unit 164 contracts with a total value of R3,5-million were investigated highlighting how crooked some South Africans are and the lengths they will go to cash in on the health crisis – with certain products procured at inflated rates of over 400%! - placing people’s lives directly at risk, while lining their own pockets. 

“So significant an issue is this that 58% of our sample said that it is too big and cannot be solved, with a lack of transparency from Government, as well as poor leadership and their inability to manage the country, among their most pressing concerns. People are becoming increasingly clear that corruption and mismanagement are contributing to South Africa’s negatively affected economic and social standing, which given our broader Covid-19 induced context, adds fuel to an already raging fire.”

What’s next South Africa?

This year’s SONA was a stark reminder of the issues that plague us as a nation. They affect us all on an individual level and as South Africans we are worried, about ourselves, and the country. “Given our deep systemic issues that have been laid bare by Covid-19, we have a long way to go to arrest both what we were dealing with before Covid-19 – high unemployment, crime, poverty - as well as its aftermath. It remains to be seen if this mobilises us to solve these issues or if it is South Africa’s undoing,” concludes Reekie. 

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