The role of communities in building a more united South Africa

South Africa – 25 March 2020 – It is the year 2030. Your community is receiving proper service delivery, crime is no longer a daily occurrence, and finally, thanks to working together as community members, that corrupt mayor was removed from office.

Moreover, Eskom finally stopped load-shedding, a lot of people in your community have jobs, food prices remain affordable and schools are safe, so much so that the drop-out rate has decreased. The National Development Plan (NDP) eliminated poverty and reduced inequality like it set out to. Efforts around growth, job creation and equality have been successful in South Africa. At last, South Africa built an inclusive society, and South Africans share common values and vision, and have national pride.

With 2030 only 10 years away, just how on track is South Africa in achieving this ideal state of the nation, ultimately attaining a high level of social cohesion?

This is a question the Indlulamithi South African Scenarios 2030 project looks to answer. Through extensive research, Indlulamithi developed three probable scenarios for South Africa. The three scenarios (Isibhujwa, Nayi le walk, and Gwara Gwara) imagine three possible and different futures considering how factors like education, crime, employment and healthcare, to name a few, are most likely to shape social cohesion by the year 2030.

The Department of Arts and Culture describes social cohesion as “the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, and the extent to which mutual solidarity finds expression itself among individuals and communities.”

It continues to state that “In terms of this definition, a community or society is cohesive to the extent that the inequalities, exclusions, and disparities based on ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, age, disability or any other distinctions which engender divisions distrust and conflict are reduced and/or eliminated in a planned and sustained manner. Community members and citizens should be active participants working together for the attainment of shared goals designed and agreed upon to improve the living conditions for all.”

Our communities cannot be removed from nation-building. The role of communities and community leaders in making sure that there is social cohesion, pride and shared values is fundamental, as sustainable social cohesion needs to begin at a community level. It is therefore vital that our communities do not only look to the government to ensure that every community, and individual, has equal access to education, healthcare, land, and employment opportunities. They also need to recognise themselves as agents of change – agents that can assist in creating a stable, prosperous, united and equitable country through their efforts.

These efforts can be through forming community groups like policing forums, education forums and street committees that will lodge community issues with councillors, but also follow up with what action has been taken to solve issues.

Global studies have shown that when members of a residential area have shared trust and connectedness, health outcomes improve and rates of violent crime drop; moreover, when communities function and grow together in harmony, rather than in conflict, the whole of society benefits.

One study, in particular, found that higher levels of community cohesion in Mpumalanga resulted in less heavy drinking – improving sexual health and HIV-related outcomes.

When Indlulamithi developed the scenarios, it took into consideration how our communities will be affected and how they will respond to a lack of social and economic exclusion, which breeds a lack of social cohesion. This included communities building their crèches, which transform to informal schools and outperform government schools, daily protests which become even more violent, and innovative local businesses and entrepreneurs booming as a response to economic and social exclusion. In these instances, even though there is the social and economic exclusion of our communities, it is noteworthy that community members work as a collective to fore government into action to protect and bring dignity to their communities.

The Indlulamithi Project hopes that the scenarios can be used by communities and community leaders to think about the future and decide to take deliberate actions in creating a better society. As a nation that is faced with daily struggles of inequality, unemployment, and poverty – with these mostly negatively impacting our communities – our communities cannot lay dormant and wait for the government to deliver solutions. Positive actions have been taken in the past; however, it is now time to take drastic actions that will force our government to deliver activities that will lift our communities and people out of poverty, securing a better future for the next generation.

As Coretta Scott King passionately stated, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

For more information on Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios 2030, visit


About Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios 2030

Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios 2030 provides tools – in the form of scenarios, research, facilitated workshops, downloadable presentations and booklets – to assist us to imagine alternative futures more than a decade from today. These scenarios aim to focus both leaders and people from all walks of life on the key questions of: What would a socially cohesive South Africa look like? And to what degree is this attainable by 2030?

The project is led by Dr Somadoda Fikeni and a diverse group of partners and stakeholders across society, including the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), Anglo American, National Planning Commission and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).