South Africa is still grappling with serious problems of crime and violence. Both Statistics South Africa and the government’s 20-year review reveal significant progress, but both also confirm continued disturbingly high levels of violence. Ordinary South Africans are deeply concerned about their personal safety. As they have for the past decade, citizens continue to rank crime and insecurity as their nation’s second-most-important problem, after unemployment. Levels of fear and experience of crime remain steady and high. Majorities – among the highest levels in Southern Africa – report feeling unsafe walking in their neighbourhoods and fearing crime in their homes. Poor and jobless South Africans are most likely to report having been victims of theft and physical attack. Non-black South Africans, especially Indian citizens, report an increase in physical attacks compared to 2011.
"Strategic collaboration with Africa has become a priority in the global North, East, and West. Powers that once saw the African continent primarily as a source of raw materials now focus on “partnership” and “development,” following the lead of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) in highlighting mutual benefits of investment and trade. China, in particular, has rapidly increased its ties to the continent in recent years, with the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), formed in 2000, as the primary institutional vehicle for its strategic engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. Steven Kuo reports that because of Africa’s price-sensitive market, the continent’s telecommunications and infrastructure development has become reliant on Chinese technology, which is competitively priced and enjoys strong back-up service compared to its Western competitors. Africa has also seen huge growth in smaller Chinese investors in food outlets, retail shops, and textiles. China, on the other hand, mainly imports minerals from Africa, along with smaller amounts of oil and agriculture products. It is also estimated that more than 1 million Chinese, most of them labourers and traders, have moved to Africa in the past decade. How do Africans see China’s foreign investment and influence in their countries? The public holds generally favourable views of economic and assistance activities by China. Africans rank the United States and China No. 1 and 2, respectively, as development models for their own countries. Remarkably, in three of five African regions, China either matches or surpasses the United States in popularity as a development model."
"In assessing the health of democracies, it is impossible to ignore the concept of citizen trust in public institutions. Trust is a cornerstone of democratic legitimacy, triggering citizens’ willingness to contribute to a strong and robust democracy: Citizens who trust their government are more willing to listen and render support to government policies aimed at improving the country. In South Africa, where economic difficulties and the Nkandla corruption case were making headlines at the time of the latest Afrobarometer survey in August-September 2015, both performance and perceived corruption could be contributory factors to a dramatic drop in public trust. Survey findings show that citizens’ trust in the president has dropped by almost half since 2011, from 62% to 34%, its second-lowest level since the first survey in 2000. Trust in members of Parliament (MPs), provincial premiers, local government councils, the ruling party, and opposition parties has also declined dramatically, making political leaders the least-trusted public officials in the country. Trust in the president is lowest of all 18 institutions and leaders that the survey asked about."
"South Africans are increasingly pessimistic about their national economy: Compared to 2011, more citizens say the country’s economic situation is bad, conditions are worse than a year ago and not likely to improve over the next 12 months, and the country is headed in the wrong direction."
Deadly and widespread attacks on foreigners in April and October 2015 echoed well-publicized violence in the 1990s and early 2000s that led some observers to see xenophobia both as endemic to South Africa and as worsening since the country’s democratic transition. New findings from the 2015 Afrobarometer survey suggest there has been little change in South Africans’ unwelcoming attitudes toward foreigners. The Rainbow Nation remains divided: Four in 10 citizens (42%) say that “foreigners should not be allowed to live in South Africa because they take jobs and benefits away from South Africans,” whilst the same proportion disagree. Attitudes toward political asylum seekers are similarly divided. And about three in 10 citizens say they would dislike having a foreigner as a neighbour (32%), whilst a similar proportion (28%) say they would like it and 40% say they would not care.
"A new Afrobarometer survey shows that unemployment remains the most important problem for government to address, cited as one of their three top priorities by nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents. In a list of citizen priorities that is largely unchanged from Afrobarometer’s previous survey in 2011, unemployment is followed by housing, crime, education, poverty, and corruption. Yet on most of these high-priority issues, large majorities of South Africans say their government has performed “fairly badly” or “very badly” – an assessment that parallels increasing public dissatisfaction with elected leaders."
Political Freedoms and Interest has yet to Translate into Mandela's Vision of Participatory Democracy in Africa
"Democratic political systems rely on citizen participation, building wider channels of integration and richer networks of association, for their consolidation. Citizen participation can range from the bare minimum of voting to more active modes of citizenship, such as campaigning or being a member of a community organisation or social movement. In Africa, participation may also focus on powerful informal and traditional networks."