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You couldn’t wish for a balder illustration of just how poorly our political leaders read us as a society, than the findings of the most recent Institute of Race Relations (IRR) poll on popular perceptions of land reform. Of course, it makes perfect sense that, for the bulk of us, “jobs and unemployment, drug abuse, crime, education and healthcare dominate the list of priorities for voters”, as my IRR colleague, head of politics and governance Gareth van Onselen, writes in “The Criterion Report”, the inaugural edition of a new polling initiative. After all, for all of us, whatever our status, these are the things that will determine not only our wellbeing at any given time in our lives, but our sense of the future as a different, better place. For most South Africans — especially the newly urbanised, the most eager among the two-thirds of us who live in towns or cities to reach the dream of stable, optimistic middle class life — the bright lights can seem dreary, hopeless and menaci...

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