NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 14 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 10:00 – 12:15 Vote 14: Statistics South Africa

Hon. Inkosi Cebekhulu

Budget Vote 14: Statistics South Africa

Honourable Speaker/Chairperson

The IFP acknowledges the crucial role played by Statistics South Africa. The agency has made immense contributions over the years in the generation of statistics that have informed decisions in the running of the country’s economy, and has executed its mandate commendably in post-apartheid South Africa. As the custodian of the country’s statistics, Statistics South Africa has supported the country’s development agenda by providing the much-needed statistics required to measure progress in the different Ministries and Departments.

The IFP notes with concern the budget cuts that have been experienced at Statistics South Africa since 2015/16, which have created a human resource challenge, as key positions remained unfilled. These budget cuts have also affected the conduct of some of the key surveys at the agency, with concerns that this might have threatened the operational ability of the agency. We support budget cuts given that they have no effect on the operational ability of Statistics South Africa. We are of the view that funding should be made available to fill in key vacancies to ensure that the quality of statistics produced is not compromised. 

We are in support of a fourth Population Census for the country. The IFP has a high regard for up-to-date statistics, and we understand that a new Population Census will provide the much-needed data for policy-making and planning.  Existing surveys in the country used in the analysis of key indicators, such as poverty and inequality, currently are using sampling frames that were drawn from the 2011 Population Census Master Frames. We need a new Census to update this, to enable the measurement of key indicators more accurately.  This Population Census also marks a new era in the history of the organisation, using computer-based data collection methods for the first time, indicating that we are embracing technology in the way we collect data. 

Despite this, the IFP wishes to express its concern over the budget needed for this Census, given the country’s weak performance in other Departments, and the effect of Covid-19 on the economy. Secondly, we are concerned about the scheduled dates for the 2021 Population Census, which is expected to commence in October 2021. In anticipation of a third wave of Covid-19, the door-to-door data collection exercises of the Census may place some individuals at risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus. There is therefore a need for the procurement of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to ensure that this Census does not jeopardise our efforts in the fight against Covid-19. However, we have witnessed how procurement policies in the country have provided opportunities for corruption. We therefore request improvements to the country’s procurement legislation and a clear justification of all budgets in this regard. 

The IFP supports the Budget Vote.