Editorial, Vol 8 Iss 4


This month South Africa celebrates the 16th Day of Reconciliation since the transition to democracy. Reflecting on prospects for progress in nation-building in the past year recalls South Africa’s trajectory from brilliant heights through foreboding lows.

As many of our authors commented over the course of this year, the Soccer World Cup brought the country together with exuberance and enthusiasm rarely seen since the elections of 1994.

This year also brought its own share of moments that have shown the fault lines and fragmentations in our society to be most clear: Julius Malema, leader of the country’s most established youth movement, unapologetic following his High Court conviction for hate speech; the ultra-conservative, minority backlash following the killing of Eugene Terre’blanche, which calls into question the depth of reconciliation and social transformation, particularly in rural areas; the recent, unrepentant comments by celebrated author Annelie Botes that she dislikes and fears her black compatriots.

It is fortunate, however, that the results of the 2010 SA Reconciliation Barometer survey – released this month – also confirm that the progress many believe we witnessed on fan walks, around soccer pitches, and even hunched together around our neighbours’ television screens, in fact has deepening roots. Almost half of all South Africans believe there have been substantive improvements in race relations since 1994. Close to two-thirds agree that they are trying to forgive those who hurt them under apartheid, and almost three in four want to leave the past behind and move on with their lives.

This issue of the SA Reconciliation Barometer frames many of the critically important issues South Africa has grappled with in 2010, and charts some future directions for the new year and beyond.

From the Institute, Rorisang Lekalake interviews executive director Fanie du Toit in response to government’s recent release of a list of 149 nominees for political pardons, and explores whether or not victim participation has been sufficient in this process.

Sana Rais and Ratula Beukman both evaluate the impact of South Africa’s highly unequal economic prospects for reconciliation and social change. Drawing on the advocacy work of the Black Sash, Beukman finds that until South Africans have greater access to decent work opportunities, a comprehensive social security system is needed to ensure that the constitutional rights to dignity and social protection are upheld.

Following a recent research colloquium at Wits University, Zimitri Erasmus questions the continued administrative use of apartheid race categories, and finds potential in the use of new indicators of race and class.

Also analysing current public discourse, Christi van der Westhuizen assesses the intersections of race, gender, class, sex and sexuality – and their implications for building an inclusive democratic society – through the rhetoric of Malema.

Finally, Ebrahim Fakir and Zandile Bhengu analyse trends in youth political and social participation following the upturn in voter registration prior to the 2009 polls.

Your comments are encouraged and welcomed, and can be posted online on the SA Reconciliation Barometer blog. On behalf of the Institute, we wish you all the best for the festive season and in 2011!


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