Twenty years of South African Democracy

After 20 years of democracy, South Africans celebrate that human rights have been realized and that society is transforming. While there is strong disappointment with the government and its leaders, South Africans retain their faith in the democratic system and do not transfer their discontent to the African National Congress (ANC). These are among the key findings of Freedom House’s study of South African democracy, conducted through 27 moderated focus groups convened between June and October 2013 that included South Africans from all racial and income groups and from rural as well as urban areas.

 

Other findings include:

  • South Africans take their human rights for granted and retain faith in the democratic system, with strong support for voting.
  • The ANC maintains strong voter support, despite considerable public cynicism about government and politicians.
  • Citizens expect the government to build on the substantial amount it delivered during the first two decades of democracy, even if they distrust many state institutions.
  • Citizens see legislative institutions as weak, unresponsive and corrupt.
  • There is an extreme lack of confidence in the police, fuelled by rampant crime and the belief that lawlessness prevails.
  • Although there are exceptions, most South Africans consign the experience of pervasive racism to history, and young people have moved beyond thinking along racial lines.
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