Feb-2019 Breakfast: South African Elections 2019: Society, Political Participation and Power

Event date: 28 February 2019


General elections will be held in South Africa in 2019 to elect a new Breakfast Header ImageNational Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province. They will be the sixth elections held since the end of the apartheid system in 1994, 25 years ago. The 2019 elections will take place at a time when South Africa is still grappling with the legacies of its past, while navigating further political, societal and economic challenges arising from global, regional and local events and trends. This includes global political polarisation around elections, such as with the 2016 American, 2017 Kenyan and 2018 Colombian presidential elections, the 2018 Brazilian general elections, and the “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom.

These election periods highlighted the rise of fake news, the presence and sometimes predominance of extreme ideologies and identity politics in media and discourse, citizen engagement with various forms of political participation other than voting – such as protesting, and in some instances political violence. In the lead up to South Africa’s national elections in 2019, South Africa’s democratic political culture will also be under scrutiny, as much as the outcomes of the elections.

In light of the above, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation will host a breakfast event for Chamber members, presenting its relevant South African survey data pertaining to the above themes from the institute’s two renowned public opinion surveys, the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) and the pan-African Afrobarometer.

The breakfast meeting will include a discussion on the socio-political patterns and trends emerging in regard to democratic political culture, and what the implications of these trends are for those in the room. It aims to highlight challenges that may arise before, during and after the election period, and prompt discussion on what needs to be done to address these.

More specifically, key questions that will be addressed include:

1) What are some of the patterns that are emerging in terms of society, political participation and power in the lead up to the 2019 elections?

2) What are the implications of these patterns to South African society more broadly?

3) What are some of the challenges that need to be addressed, particularly for the business community?

4) What can be done to overcome these challenges?

Relevant IJR publications:
More than a space for interracial contact: Exploring the importance of the workplace for social cohesion and reconciliation in South Africa

Corruption as an obstacle to reconciliation

Social cohesion and inequality in South Africa

The South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) is a public opinion survey conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in South Africa since 2003. It is the world’s longest running public opinion survey on national reconciliation and provides a nationally-representative measure of South Africans’ attitudes towards reconciliation. This tool makes all survey data gathered by this project available online. More information on how to use the tool, SARB’s methodology, sampling, fieldwork and the IJR is available on the IJR’s website – www.ijr.org.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in more than 35 countries in Africa. Through our findings, ordinary citizens can have a voice in policy-making processes that affect their lives. We are the world’s leading research project on issues that affect ordinary African men and women. We collect and publish high-quality, reliable statistical data on Africa which is freely available to the public.

Contact Eimear with any queries: eimear.costigan@britcham.co.za


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