Research has found that unlike other demographics, white South Africans were far less likely to make certain sacrifices to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
The survey by the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), on who was willing to sacrifice certain human rights when it came to Covid-19, showed that 78% of South Africans were willing to sacrifice their rights.
The third round of the survey collected responses from 10,618 participants between 29 December 2020 and 6 January 2021, which were weighted with the country’s demographics and population.
“General willingness to sacrifice, the idea of it and ideology, showed us there was a level of social solidarity that existed. However, people who were more willing to sacrifice when looking at the specific rights were the ones who were confident in the president [Cyril Ramaphosa], had a lower income, and a lower level of education,” explained HSRC’s developmental, capable and ethical state division head, Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller.
Top of the list of willingness was black Africans at 81% but right at the bottom were white South Africans, with only 58% responding that they were willing to sacrifice their human rights for Covid-19.
Political affiliation also played a role, with ANC and EFF supporters more likely to have willingness than DA supporters. But unlike the second round, willingness increased from 54% to 69%.
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Bohler-Muller assumes that white population’s unwillingness to sacrifice their rights was due to political affiliation, distrust in the government and cultural differences.
“I am assuming, looking at the political breakdown, that it has to do with political ideology. It is that and also maybe a cultural thing.
“African values are far more about solidarity than the common good. White South Africans are still within the traditional and individual rights approach. It is also a distrust in government. It is a mixture of things,” she told The Citizen.
41% of those against sacrificing their rights supported the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown, while 28% were for the sale of alcohol. Despite unwilling to give up their rights, 61% were in favour of the increasing of social grants.
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But the human rights willing to be given up differed.
Majority of the respondents, 56%, were willing to give up attending their place of worship. This was followed by the right to travel, at 46%. The least right to be sacrificed was the right to privacy and not share information with government.
“People who are willing to sacrifice their rights are more compliant when it comes to public health regulations and protocols… They are more likely to wear their masks in public.
“People who believe the current restrictions are too strict are less willing to sacrifice their rights and more interesting, people who are willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine are linked to the willingness to sacrifice human rights,” Bohler-Muller.
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