“When we look at the overall country comparison by South Africans, we’re grouped closer to Iraq than we are to countries like South Korea, which is where the G8 countries see us. South Africans are in a state of constant anxiety,” Trevor Ndlazi, country manager at the Reputation Institute told CNBC Africa.
“South Africa actually fares very well when we look at the international picture. When we look at the local picture, South Africans aren’t as optimistic about how South Africa’s reputation is doing.”
According to the Reputation Institute's latest survey, South Africa’s reputation has improved from 47.5 points to 51.24 points.
The country’s reputation in the international community has improved, particularly amongst the G8 nations. However this has been overshadowed by high levels of pessimism locally.
“If you think back a couple of weeks when we expected protracted mining industry strikes, that we were anticipating might become violent, none of which happened – that’s the kind of environment that we’re in. We’re not expecting things to go well,” Ndlazi explained.
Among the G8 nations, the best perceptions of South Africa come from the Eurozone and Russia, and Obama’s first visit to South Africa in June was also a positive contributor.
Ndlazi indicated that the system the institute uses to rank an individual’s responses has 16 specific attributes, which they break up further into three dimensions.
“Those dimensions are economic advancement of the economy, the environment in which the country is, in other words is it a pleasant country to live in, and the other has to do with governance,” he said.
“We ask questions related to those three dimensions and we break them down. When we do the analysis, it comes back and tells us whether people feel positively about the governance in the country, or whether they regard the natural endowments as being a strong contributor.”
High levels of pessimism locally have clouded South Africa’s improved reputation abroad and Ndlazi feels that South Africa’s self-criticism is harsher than it needs to be.
A country’s reputation also has a direct impact on its economy and he added that the media, specifically, has a big role to play in driving the sentiment of the country.
“I think the media really has a positive role to play in driving a positive message but a balanced message. The critical thing is that there are issues that are not working in our country that do need to be addressed. The risk that we face is that we’re perceived very well but there are these areas that if they’re not addressed, will actually result in the positive perception turning negative.”