SA feels lockdown sows ‘division’ and has people anxious about the future
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Cape Town - The national lockdown fosters distress and social division. This is according to initial findings of an ongoing survey on public perceptions of the economic, social and political impact of Covid-19 on life across the country.
The survey that is conducted by the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), in partnership with the Development, Capable and Ethical State of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), found that the lockdown has caused considerable financial and emotional distress.
A total of 66% of respondents said they were struggling to pay their expenses, while 28% said they had gone to bed hungry. The most commonly experienced emotion was stress at 57%. This was followed by boredom at 45%, fear 43% and frustration/irritability at 34%. Depression was mentioned by 32%, sadness by 25%, loneliness by 26% while 18% expressed anger.
Although there was a high level of support for President Cyril Ramaphosa, it was clear that people were not as satisfied with their councillors.
A total of 73% believed that the president was doing a good job, while only 25% thought their councillors were doing a good job. HSRC division executive Narnia Bohler-Muller said this was probably an indication that implementation on the ground was uneven. According to the survey a growing issue is the impact on schooling.
In terms of short-term coronavirus outlook over the coming month, 49% believe the worst is yet to come, 18% believed the situation would remain the same, while 17% felt that we are over the worst and things will improve.
In terms of future risk, 22% believe that it is likely that they will contract the virus in the next few months, while 50% believe their personal financial situation will worsen in the next few months. However, 43% of South Africans supported the lockdown with its current level of restrictions, with 37% supporting amendments to the regulations.
Bohler-Muller said based on the lower levels of support, it was more likely that as the lockdown continues younger people would become more dissatisfied and restless.
“This is especially applicable to young unemployed men. This is one of the reasons for the restriction on the purchase of alcohol as over-imbibing reduces inhibitions and could lead to irresponsible conduct. Of course this does not only apply to the youth,” she said.