More young people are losing their faith in democracy, research claims

Professor Joleen Steyn Kotze, a senior research specialist at the HSRC, says people are becoming disillusioned with democracy as a political system rather than as an ideology.

South Africans are increasingly dissatisfied with democracy, according to an annual survey conducted by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC).

The council's South African Social Attitudes Survey shows that young people in particular are losing faith in democracy.

When South Africa celebrated a decade of democracy in 2004, 59% of survey respondents were satisfied with democracy.

Now, only 32% are satisfied with how democracy is working in the country.

Professor Joleen Steyn Kotze, a senior research specialist at the HSRC, says people are becoming disillusioned with democracy as a political system rather than as an ideology.

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Prof Kotze says many South Africans are feeling a sense of disempowerment and operating outside of democratic processes, as can be seen through violent protests, vigilantism, and mass looting in the country.

Kotze says the disillusionment with democracy is growing due to the inequality of opportunities in SA and ongoing government corruption.

What is quite telling, most notably among the youth, is almost this sense of disillusionment possibly with democracy as a system given the lack of meaningful transformation and meaningful equality of opportunities for many South Africans as we start pushing towards three decades of democracy.

Prof Joleen Steyn Kotze, Senior Research Specialist in Democracy and Citizenship - Human Sciences Research Council

There is a disillusionment with formal politics that registers through a low voter turnout for example, or low voter participation. That disillusionment in turn, in my view, leads to the public or citizens feeling [that they should] rather operate outside of the formal system... through, for example, destructive protests... mass looting... all of those are an indicator that citizens are starting to operate outside the process.

Prof Joleen Steyn Kotze, Senior Research Specialist in Democracy and Citizenship - Human Sciences Research Council

There's a large sense of marginalisation... there's a sense that spatiality of apartheid have not changed... also, equality of opportunity has not necessarily materialised. That almost creates a sense of disempowerment.

Prof Joleen Steyn Kotze, Senior Research Specialist in Democracy and Citizenship - Human Sciences Research Council

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