Honourable Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Chairperson;

Minister in the Presidency, the Honourable Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni;

Honourable Members;

Chairperson of the Statistic Council

Statistician-General for the Statistics South Africa

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour today to stand before this august House to debate the Budget Vote 12 of Statistics South Africa on this historical day under democratic government. On 09th of May 1994, South African Parliament elected its first black President, our struggle icon utata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. In his inauguration speech, President Mandela said “our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for glorious life for all”.     

We are living in a new era where the present is changing faster than we design for it. This is an important indication that we need to change gears and take the effort and courage necessary to design fundamental changes for the future of our country. The importance of statistics as an evidence-based tool informing policy, planning and budgeting to develop a country remain a key questions for the state and the market. Statistics assist government to improve its policies and to be transparent and accountable about the delivery of developmental results. If we have to adapt to a new era where the present is changing faster than we design for it, statistics should inform policy, planning and budgeting in all facets of our country in order to fight the triple three challenges. 

Honourable Chairperson, Reliable statistics are a key element towards better measurement of policies and programmes of government. Reliable and credible statistics describe the reality of people’s everyday lives. The role of statistics in national development is very critical.

The following quote from the World Bank provides a good starting point to my debate on budget vote 12 of Stats SA; “Why do statistics matter? In simple terms, they are the evidence on which policies are built. They help identify needs, set goals, and monitor progress. Without good statistics, the development progress is blind: policy makers cannot learn from their mistakes, the public cannot hold them accountable”. Statistics produced by the Statistics South Africa have being reliable and credible, used to inform planning and policies of our beloved country including the production of the National Development Plan vision 2030.

In one of his State of the Nation Address, his excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa stated that “the path we choose now will determine the course for future generations and further said that is why we are taking steps to strengthen our democracy”.  Such a path should solely be based on the foundation of what official statistics guides us as a nation in terms of addressing socio-economic challenges encountered by various spheres of government.

Honourable Chairperson, load-shedding is another major challenge confronting us which negatively impacts businesses, disrupts households, compromise the provision of social services and affects safety and wellbeing of our people.

Access to electricity in South Africa was reported at 84.39% in 2020 as the data was sourced from official statistics produced by Stats SA. Only 20% of black South Africans had access to electricity in 1994. These statistics reflect the major transformation of the democratic ANC government. As much as we are all concerned about the load-shedding, our people have access to electricity and we hope with the new introduction of Ministry of Electricity we will be able to reduce the load-shedding and ultimately end it.

Honourable Chairperson, Statistics South Africa remains a beacon of hope in transforming and changing agenda to facilitate and to drive the culture and organisational change required to implement the new strategic direction. In 2022, Stats SA embarked on a national Census 2022 to assist the country in compiling a numerical profile of South Africa.

As the African National Congress we are pleased about the progress made in collection of data and analysis of Census 2022 data despite collecting CENSUS under tough health conditions brought by COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate the Statistician-General Mr Maluleke and the team for navigating and ensuring such  an important project is carried through. The report will be published in July. This will provide us with data of the macro and micro socio-economic shifts of our society and country.

The use of technology during Census data collection should be the future in order to reduce all risks associated with paper collection of data. We are pleased about the development regarding Census 2022 where majority of the South Africans have witnessed the first population count to introduce digital census through the use of online and telephonic data collection platforms which allowed respondents to complete the census questionnaire on their own. Digitalization enables the collection of population data at a faster pace with an unprecedented level of detail.

Honourable Chairperson, we are quite aware of the historical budget shortfalls confronting the department especially on the compensation of employees’ budget.

Even though the National Treasury and Parliament have approved an additional budget for the compensation of employees over the medium term, the current allocation is not sufficient to retain highly specialised professionals.

The success of the attainment of the objectives of the National Development Plan depend solely on the credible and timeously statistical data to inform planning, policies and budget allocations which will be translated into delivery of public services. We therefore appeal to all planners, policymakers, decision makers, and leaders in our country to study the Census 2022 results once published to plan according to the challenges confronting our society on the ground.

In our deliberations as the Portfolio Committee with Stats SA on the Budget Vote we observed that the historical budget shortfall or resource constraints continue to negatively impact on the Stats South Africa’s ability to attain its set objectives. That the Stats SA business model emphasises digitalisation. The Committee further supports the establishment of Interconnected Statistical System for better coordination of various statistics produced in the country.   We noted that the entity was confronted with unreliability of State Information Technology Agency (SITA) service.

We have recommended that:

Statistics South Africa should expeditiously finalise and table amendment of the Statistics Act (1999) to drive statistical reform in the country timeously to Parliament.

That Statistics South Africa should consider adopting a programme aimed at capacitating all government departments and local government on key statistical findings focusing on outcome and impact measurement to assist all spheres in planning, policy-making, evidence-based decision making and budgeting.

That Statistics South Africa under the Minister in the Presidency and together with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation should encourage departments to use statistics releases.

Stats SA should leverage the use of technology. Stats SA should ensure that an Integrated Indicator Framework (IIF) on the  District Development Model. That  the Vacancy rate of 20.7% has to be drastically reduced by undertaking a recruitment drive.

With this, let me take this opportunity to thank the leadership of Stats SA under the stewardship of Minister in the Presidency (Ms Khumbutzo Ntshavheni), Chairperson of the Statistical Council (Prof David Everatt) and Statistician-General (Mr R Maluleke) and the entire Stats SA team in doing a great work for the country through production of statistics.

Furthermore, we appreciate Members of the Portfolio Committee in conducting effective oversight over Statistics South Africa and ensure that the department provide the country with quality, reliable and accurate official statistics.

The African National Congress supports Budget Vote 12 of the Statistics South Africa to continuously collect data and compile statistics that guides government, business and non-government sectors on their daily activities.

I thank you