More than six out of 10 (64%) adult South Africans agree with the statement that access to information and a free media are basic human rights, and almost half (47%) believe that the proposed information bill, or “Secrecy Bill”, will limit media freedom. This is according to research findings from Ipsos’ “Pulse of the People” poll, conducted between October and November this year.
The higher the level of education, the stronger the view that access to information is a basic human right.
“South Africans’ strong views about the bill are rooted in our deep commitment to human rights on a grassroots level,” says Mari Harris, Public Affairs Director at Ipsos.
This view that media freedom is a basic human right is supported by South Africans from all walks of life – men, women, young and old. South Africans who have had some education are more likely to share this view, however, and as the education level increases, so too does the belief that access to information is a basic human right, as evidenced in the graph below.
Six in every 10 (60%) blacks, 72% of Indians, 74% of coloureds and 76% of whites agree.
Split along party lines, more than six in every 10 (63%) ANC supporters share this view, while DA supporters feel even more strongly about the subject, with three quarters (76%) supporting media freedom as a basic human right.
Opposition to the Secrecy Bill
The view that the Secrecy Bill will limit media freedom is especially dominant among those with a tertiary education – 55% of this group agree that media freedom will be limited.
Looking at population groups, 51% of both whites and coloureds, 46% of blacks, and 40% of Indians agree.
Analysed along party lines, 53% of DA supporters believe the proposed information bill will limit media freedom. A slightly lower proportion (49%) of ANC supporters share their opinion.
Potential for corruption
Half (50%) of South Africans are of the opinion that, if the new information bill becomes law, it will be easier to hide corruption and fraud. This sentiment is more pronounced among DA supporters (60%) than ANC supporters (50%). Almost half of blacks (48%) and more than half of Indians (54%), coloureds (58%) and whites (59%) agree. Again, stronger views are linked to a higher level of education: 36% of those with no education, 47% of those with up to some high school, 50% of those who completed matric, and 64% of those with tertiary education agree.
* Currently only about four in every 10 South Africans believe the national government is doing well in fighting corruption:
* 38% say they believe the government is doing very well or fairly well in fighting corruption in government
* 42% say the government is doing very well or fairly well in maintaining transparency and accountability.
“The issue of corruption is one of the so-called red-light areas in the regular Ipsos Government Performance Barometer – which highlights the public’s evaluation of government performance on 26 critical policy and service delivery areas,” explains Harris. “If less than 50% of the public evaluate the government as doing well – that is doing “very well” or “fairly well” in a certain area – the issue is below the pass mark and is highlighted as a problem area, demanding urgent attention or corrective measures from government. The issue of corruption has been on the red-light list for a long time.”
* Fieldwork was carried out from October to November by trained and experienced fieldworkers
* Face-to-face in-home interviews were conducted with a randomly chosen sample of 3 563 South Africans, 15 years and older, interviewed in the language preferred by the respondent.
* The results were weighted and projected to the universe (ie adult South Africans).
Mari Harris, Director, Ipsos Public Affairs, Phone (+27) 11 709 7800, firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: (082) 557 5058