ANC Parliamentary Caucus

National Assembly

Budget Vote 14 Statistics South Africa. 

Comrade J. Nothnagel

09 May 2023

Using Statistics South Africa reports for monitoring and evaluating, service delivery and enhancement of decision making.

The ANC in its 55th National Conference has prioritised Monitoring and Evaluation, to ensure government plans are implemented effective and to enable interventions where challenges exist. As the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, we have raised our concern of the lack of effective measurement of outcomes of policy implementation. Through the work of Statistics South Africa and through expanding their statistical data to various impactful areas, we will close this critical information Gap. Measurement of outcomes and impact of programmes is critical for enhanced oversight.

Key to the tasks of government is creating a better lives for all South African citizens.This is is commitment underpinning many of our strategic documents and election manifestos of the African National Congress (ANC). It is important therefore to recognise Statistics South Africa playing a role in this historic mission in its own way and with expertise. For the ANC it is important to recognise Statistics South Africa fulfilling its strategic vision of “Improving lives through data ecosystems”, ultimately Statistics South Africa must be a dynamic and modern entity empowered to transform people’s lives through an updated, dynamic and advanced data ecosystem which should be a premise for policy making and decision making by private and public sectors.

Placing data ecosystem for effective monitoring and evaluations in governments service delivery

The department derives its existence from the Statistics Act of 1999 and has a responsibility to

“advance the production, dissemination, use and coordination of official and other statistics to assist organs of state, businesses, other organisations and  the  public in  planning, monitoring,  policy  development and  decisionmaking. The act also

requires that the department coordinates statistical production among organs of state in line with the purpose

of official statistics and statistical principles”.

One of the biggest concerns for the ANC is to see the programmes of the government changing people’s lives in a tangible way for the better. This can be done when there is an empowered Stats SA with the resources and skills that it needs to assess the impact of policies and the state oof various services. It is an entity such as Stats SA that must help South Africans from a state of only saying South Africa has good laws and policies but the problem is implementation, which by implications may question the impact these policies in changing people’s lives.

It is important to have institutions such as Stats SA because data is important in the work of  monitoring and evaluation of services delivered to society.

“Data are the lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability. Without high-quality data providing the right information on the right things at the right time; designing, monitoring and evaluating effective policies becomes

almost impossible.” (A World That Counts, UN, 2014).

The South African government has recently launched a district-based development planning which should drive service delivery across the country. This new district-based model of development and service delivery has been launched as a key intervention for service delivery with the intention to integrate planning for cooperative governance with the aim to create a  new integrated, district-based, service delivery approach aimed at fast-tracking service delivery and ensure that municipalities are adequately supported and resourced to carry out their mandate working with the Provincial and National Government. The implementation of this model requires statistical information to inform the District Development Model (DDM), and there is a need for the current measurement agenda of Stats SA to reflect in DDM such that the impact of DDM is positively felt and continuously improved.

This will help the government in constructing a constitutional democracy, and build institutions that have the capacity to broaden access to services. This will help addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. The Stats SA also helps government pave the way to undoing the structural pillars of apartheid which produced multi-generational impoverishment of black communities, particularly Africans. Stats SA helps to desegregate data to deal with segregation, exclusion, discrimination, oppression and marginalisation of our people thus shaping government and private sector programmes.

Increasing government use of Statistics  SA reports for planning budgeting and prioritization

There is a huge role played by Stats SA in terms of planning, budgeting and prioritisation in South Africa, key amongst crucial things is to advance the increase in the use of data in all the departments and different spheres of government to help identify priorities, to plan and budget. Take for example the matter of women’s socio-economic empowerment,  it’s a matter that is of critical importance in South Africa. Women’s socio-economic empowerment and the promotion of gender equality is part of the urgent key matters of government priorities in its developmental agenda.

Stats SA, in partnership with the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD), the World Bank and other stakeholders, are embarking on a focused study to address issues of harmonisation, develop the Disability Inequality Index (DII), and research the possibility of running a disability survey. Stats SA’s outputs will take into consideration these societal changes by timely providing decision-makers with relevant data, enabling them to introduce and deploy public services and programmes that will improve the lives of SA citizens”.

These types of initiatives should serve as a catalyst on how government should transform its planning, budgeting and prioritisation through the use of Statistics SA as an instrumental agency in guiding data-driven planning. Gender Budgeting is a critical aspect to address the level of gender inequality in our society.

The increase in environmental risks globally and by extension South Africa is a cause for concern, Stats SA has a role in the South African context to help the government in issues relating to urban planning and disaster management. The role of environmental statistics is evidently important for the nation and global policy agendas, as it influences the measurement of the well-being of citizens, it can also advance future planning. Many of the ways to consider reviving environmental statistics being part of statistics due to the fact that natural disasters are a challenge facing the country and a continuous risk, another thing is bringing back and strengthening the “Stats SA compendium of economic environmental accounts”, which was discontinued in 2016/17 due to financial constraints.

Expanding Data collection through external data sources and external statistical data

Many National Statistics Officers (NSOs ) and other statistics agencies across the globe have considered various initiatives and innovations to respond too many opportunities and threats that digital and data revolutions have. These trends in the statistics sector include the need to explore alternative data sources including private sector data sources through partnerships with old and new entrants in the data ecosystem.  We must harvest big data and build cutting edge capabilities.

Stats SA has some opportunities to explore in this regard such as implementing the amendment of the Statistics Act and clearly outlining its strategic intent to build partnerships in the data ecosystem. The South African government should see these opportunities and unlock them for Stats SA through legislation to mitigate battles between those who believe in public knowledge and those who will be profiting from its disintegration. The management of public and private interests is crucial.

In conclusion:

Many opportunities can be unlocked through the use of data. Enormous opportunities for citizens, businesses and governments can be better leveraged because of informed decisions and innovation that can be data driven. In the case of South Africa data can help us recover and strengthen our economic potential and areas of social impact.

Thank you,