Statistics South Africa on state of readiness for Census 2011: briefing

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Finance Standing Committee

24 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr T Mufamadi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Statistics South Africa briefed Members on its state of readiness for the 2011 census. Statistics South Africa was well aware that South Africa was known as a country with a record of undercounting in censuses. The Minister had told Parliament that he had set Statistics South Africa a target of 2%. In the census of 1996, the undercount had been 10%. In the 2001 Census the undercount was 17%. Statistics South Africa said that it was transparent in articulating the undercount and measures to remedy it. Statistics South Africa noted that it sought to follow the recommendations of the United Nations recommendations for censuses. Statistics-South Africa explained that it was necessary to embed the notion of census as a national event and a national responsibility. Statistics South Africa believed that, by itself, it could conduct the census very fast, but by working with the community it would do it very well. Statistics South Africa believed that the census would provide demographic and socio-economic information that would facilitate or enhance policy and decision-making within the country and provide insight into the performance on implementation of Government policies, interventions and programmes. The presentation indicated the steps that Statistics South Africa had taken to achieve that target. These included institutions of management, control and oversight internal to Statistics-South Africa, which would also ensure that there was proper monitoring and evaluation of processes, together with partnership programmes within the country and within the provinces, and with some of the non-governmental stakeholders. Statistics South Africa would also make sure that processes for the census were simplified. Statistics South Africa was beginning a wider advocacy and publicity programme from national to grassroots level. This would be launched on 10 October 2010, when a countdown of the 365 days to the start of the census itself would begin. Enumeration would start on the night of the 09 October 2011. The bulk of data processing would be completed in 2012. The latest that the final results would be released would be March 2013.

 

The Chairperson noted that given migration patterns regionally, not only domestically, capturing reliable population data was a major challenge, and alluded to the importance of capturing reliable data, in particular, residential addresses, had been emphasised. Members asked also about the projected budget. This was not clear in the presentation. Members asked Statistics South Africa who its stakeholders were, how Statistics South Africa proposed to reach the rural communities, about for reaching the hard-to-count groups, to explain more about the pre-2011 mobilisation strategy, about the role of the municipalities, agreed with Statistics South Africa that the Census would probably be the most important event in South Africa in the near future, asked how Statistics South Africa  would ensure that everybody in densely populated, urban informal settlements would be reached and counted, even the so-called illegal foreigners, asked to see a copy of the census form, if race was part of the census form and, if so, why it was necessary, and observed that there would clearly be a shortfall in Statistics South Africa’s budget. What were its expectations and what was the shortfall going to be?

Members also asked if Statistics South Africa was going to request a contribution from the provinces towards its budget for the census, about households headed by children, and also observed that visits by enumerators were likely to arouse expectations of delivery of housing. Members also asked if the 30 000 enumerated areas supervisors would be retained after the census, whether there were plans for hard-to-count groups, like the sex workers, truck drivers, and sailors, which areas in which provinces would be piloted, about high-walled communities or estates, about the countdown which would begin on 10 October 2010, and wanted to find ways of encouraging South Africans to engage with the census and harnessing the enthusiasm that the World Cup had generated.

Meeting report

Welcome and introduction

The Chairperson welcomed Members and delegates.

The Chairperson noted that, given migration patterns regionally, not only domestically, capturing reliable population data was a major challenge, a challenge increased by an element of fear in the public mind. In a previous meeting the Committee had noted the need for Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) to return to give a briefing on the state of readiness for the 2011 census. The briefing would enable the Committee to know how best to assist Stats SA to ensure that the census would be successful. In the previous day's meeting on the process undertaken by the Department of Public Service and Administration and the National Treasury on the process of trying to clean the PERSAL system, the Department had highlighted what the South African Revenue Service (SARS) did to make sure that every employer had an accurate residential address of each individual employee. Today, if you approached a typical employer, it was difficult to find such information. The Chairperson noted that Government was also beginning to examine the methodology of SARS in this regard. It was this kind of information that assisted in analyzing the correctness of South Africa’s statistics, just at the level of employment.  He noted ‘a huge contingent’, many of whom he knew, but he asked members of the delegation to introduce themselves for the benefit of other Members of the Committee.

 

Statistics South Africa.  Census 2011. Presentation

Mr Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), said that Stats SA was pleased to return to brief the Committee on the state of readiness for 2011. He would indicate the strategic roles of each member of the delegation. He explained that a census was a statutory obligation and that the Statistician-General advised the Minister on the need to conduct the census. In accordance with legislation, a census of South Africa was due to be conducted in 2011. According to the same legislation, the Stats SA Council was to advise the Minister on the acceptability or otherwise of the results of the census.

 

Mr Lehohla said that Ms Gwen Lehloenya, Executive Manager: Survey Co-ordination, Stats SA, had to ensure that the census followed the principles of the United Nations (UN) recommendations for censuses. Ms Marlize Pistorius, Executive Manager: Methodology and Evaluation, Stats SA, was responsible for using the post enumeration survey to ensure that the census did in fact achieve the appropriate cover. By way of management, control and oversight internal to Stats SA, the organization was continuously undertaking data acquisition. Mr Lehohla observed finally that the Statistics Council had to satisfy the Minister as to whether the results of the census were truly a reflection of the population of the country.

 

Mr Lehohla noted that all these processes were governed by scientific method. Stats SA was well aware that South Africa was known as a country with a record of undercounting in censuses. The Minister had told Parliament that he had set Stats SA a target of 2%. The presentation would indicate the steps that Stats SA had taken to achieve that target. Mr Lehohla noted that ‘Chief’ Mr Risenga Maluleke, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Relations, Stats SA, was concerned with the communications and provincial aspects of the census. These aspects embraced mobilizing the media and the provinces. Mr Ashwell Jenneker, Deputy Director-General: Statistical Support and Informatics, handled informatics and geography; he had just distributed some maps to Members in illustration of his work in providing that infrastructure to the census. Mr Lehohla remarked that the team that Members saw around them had come to demonstrate the size of the project.

 

Mr Lehohla said that the presentation would cover eight areas: insights into South African census taking, which would inform Members about how South Africa was notorious for undercounting – however, Stats SA was transparent in articulating the undercount and measures to remedy it; the mandate for the 2011 census; the data to be collected; how Stats SA was organized; the milestones achieved thus far; concerns, which, in the main, included other things, including finance, which were being discussed with National Treasury; and conclusions.

 

Ms Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Director-General: Population and Social Statistics, Stats SA, explained the importance of conducting the census. She said that it was necessary to embed the notion of census as a national event and a national responsibility. It was also necessary to say to the country that if Stats SA would go alone in running the census, it would do it very fast; but if it were to conduct the census in collaboration with the country, it would do it very well, although not very fast. Since it was a mammoth task, it would need the diversity and the ability of the country to gain. Now that the World Cup had united us, the census was the second biggest event in the country that should be seen and promoted.

 

Ms Masiteng said that when one examined the importance of conducting a census, one saw it as a momentous endeavor that would provide diverse demographic and socio-economic information that would be able to facilitate or enhance policy and decision-making within the country. It would also give insight into the performance in relation to the implementation of Government policies, interventions and programmes.

 

With reference to previous censuses, Ms Masiteng highlighted the problem of undercounting. In the census of 1996, the undercount had been 10%. In the 2001 Census the undercount was 17%. As Stats SA was preparing for this census, it examined a number of research programmes in an effort to understand what could have possibly contributed to the undercount. Stats SA realised that inconclusive planning could have contributed, together with a lack of capacity. Other factors were a failure of advocacy and publicity campaigns, and incomplete and inaccurate address lists. The timing of the payment of field staff had also to be considered, together with the untargeted recruitment of staff and inefficient and ineffective training of staff. Ms Mositeng noted, however, the importance of community involvement, with a voluntary approach. Other factors were inadequate fieldwork organization; and inadequate quality assurance and monitoring processes. Stats SA had realised the importance of establishing arrangements for quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation as independent processes alongside the process of census taking. Some other contributing factors were the hard-to-count groups – for those there had been no clear strategies and Stats SA was still working on targeted strategies to deal with those groups.

 

Stats SA had asked itself what would make a successful census 2011. Ms Mositeng said that the lessons learnt during the two previous censuses and the community survey carried out in 2007 would form the base for planning. Stats SA would ensure that there was successful programme testing across all processes. Testing had begun in 2008 and remained in progress. Stats SA would make sure that there was proper planning and management of processes including proper institutional arrangements and organization. Stats SA would make sure that there was proper monitoring and evaluation of processes. Stats SA would have well-thought out partnership programmes within the country and within the provinces, and across some of the stakeholders who were not part of Government. Stats SA would also make sure that processes for the census were simplified (Keep all processes simple) together with a streamlined decision-making process within the project and organisation.

 

Ms Mositeng noted that the mandate of the 2011 census was to plan and manage the design, collection, processing and dissemination of an accurate census 2011 within the stakeholders’ definition with the aim of enumerating all persons within the country without omissions or duplication, and provide universal and relevant data that would meet the country’s needs and international needs.

 

To meet this mandate, Stats SA would ensure proper coordinated and integrated planning; conduct a comprehensive advocacy and publicity exercise in support of all census processes; conduct a comprehensive testing of all processes to produce comprehensive and relevant data items, questionnaire and census products; conduct verification and validation of all demarcated enumeration areas (EAs) and also perform listing of all dwellings in the country; enumerate each and every person in the country without omission and duplication; accurately convert information from the questionnaires into electronic data and produce primary tables; and disseminate census data and products.

 

Ms Mositeng said that the benefits of data collected would make sure that there was a base and platform for measurement for evidence-based decision making; rational planning  both at provincial and municipal level; monitoring and evaluation of projects across municipalities; municipal budget allocation; poverty measurement and comparability across municipalities; resource allocation for implementation of programmes; and a tool for bench-marking changes within the provinces and municipalities over time (20 years from now) to understand the progress of development in the first two decades of democracy. The censuses 1996 and 2001 and community surveys of 2007 had collected similar data would be used comparatively in the analysis of trends.

 

The kind of data to be collected would include the population distribution within each province; the types of housing in urban and non-urban areas; the distribution of households; the type of water source, distance travelled, and access to water; toilet facilities; the type of energy or fuel source, and access to energy; income distribution; migration within the province; refuse removal - % of households having access to refuse removal; telephones lines within the province; and disability type and distribution.

 

Ms Mositeng explained institutional arrangements. Stats SA had established management and advisory committees. There was the project nerve centre to conduct day-to-day monitoring and evaluation of project plans and activities and track progress on a daily basis under the leadership of the Project Director. There was also a technical committee which was the technical advisory arm of the project. This committee also worked under the leadership of the Project Director. There were also the census steering committees which existed to advise the project on matters relating to aspects technical or operational in nature. There was also a national advisory committee, which advised the Statistician-General on strategic issues related to the project. There were also provincial and district level steering committees which reflected the roles of the steering committees at national level and at head office.

 

Ms Mositeng noted some fundamental improvements. Stats SA now had a functional project governance structure in place. Stats SA had been able to conduct tests on most of the systems, and had conducted the first pilot on time in 2009. Stats SA was now training for what it described as the dress rehearsal to be carried out on and from 10 October 2010. The start of the dress rehearsal would also be the start of the count-down of the 365 days until 10 October 2011 and the census itself. Stats SA was introducing a wider advocacy and publicity programme, beginning 10 October 2010, from national to grassroots level using the partnership approach with the stakeholders. The census questionnaire had, in response to recommendations of the United Nations, and on the basis of the needs of the country, been made more user-friendly to both the field workers and respondents. Preparation of the questionnaire had begun in 2008. Strategies with regard to the reduction of undercount had been identified and documented. Stats SA sought the involvement of all the stakeholders on all the census processes, with the aim of providing data that had minimal imputations; data that had minimal adjustments; data that truly represented the country’s dynamics; and data that was available on time.

 

Ms Mositeng, under the heading ‘Where are we now?’ said that Stats SA had piloted data collection, and had piloted data processing, and had completed a report on post enumeration processes. Enumeration for the 2011 census would start on the night of the 09 October 2011. The bulk of data processing would be completed in 2012. The latest that the final results would be released would be March 2013.

 

Ms Mositeng said that the milestones in responding to the mandate were as follows: the conclusion of all plans by September 2008; the completion of all tests before the pilot project in September 2009; the collection of pilot data in October 2009; the pilot data processing in July 2010; the PES study results at the end of August 2010; the dress rehearsal from April 2010 to March 2011; the listing for main census in October  2011; the main data collection in October 2011; the main data processing in December 2012; and the final results in March 2013.

 

With regard to planning, the overall census strategy was in place; component strategies were in place; operational plans were in place; a budget had been compiled; the census governance model was in place; the project plan had been established, though under rigorous tests; various census committees and their composition had been agreed upon; and the project nerve centre was in operation; the technical team was in operation, as were the census steering committees, the census advisory committees, and the provincial and regional advisory committees.

 

Regarding integrated field operations, the fieldwork integrated methodology had been agreed upon. Targeted publicity, listing, and data collection was to be carried out by ‘a single and same person’ in each enumerated area (EA).

 

The integrated methodology had been documented and tested during the mini-test, and pilot strategies with regard to the reduction of the undercount had been identified and documented. With regard to geographical support, demarcation of EAs was now in progress, though at a very slow pace. Map referencing had been tested in Gauteng. Validation of EAs (office-based) was in progress. The methodology for EA verification was in progress. 68% of place names had been demarcated; 49% of EAs had been demarcated. The aim was to have a complete demarcation by January 2010.

 

The strategy on publicity and advocacy had been agreed upon and documented, as had the use of targeted publicity by fieldworkers at EA level. There would be a wider advocacy through partnership structures across the country and various committees, and a wider publicity through print and electronic media and partnerships with state institutions, the private sector and the public sector.

 

Ms Mositeng said that, with regard to enumeration, the time that it took to do the entire field work was being monitored. There had been a revision of the ratios of different levels of supervision, as follows: 1 field worker coordinator (FWC) to 5 supervisors; and 1 supervisor to 4 enumerators. This would reduce the administrative burden, with improved supervisory time. There had been a focus on quality. Various tests (mini-tests) had been conducted, and there had been an independent quality assurance (QA) by monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

 

With regard to data processing and analysis, a data processing solution had been agreed upon. A mini test had been processed on time. It had been pilot processed with some delay. The questionnaire had been designed and laid out. The processing strategy had been finalised. An analysis unit had been formed within the census: capacity was being built in this regard.

 

With regard to the post enumeration survey (PES), there had been a refinement of methodology, capacity building, and timing of PES field work. Specifications for automated and manual matching had been completed. A sample for the dress rehearsal was ready.

 

As to the operational bench mark, the thinking and key areas of collaboration were in place; workshops and exhibits would take place at various conferences or shows; there would be presentations; community profiles would be installed, with targeting particularly of all three levels of Government. There would be training sessions on Stats SA products. Ms Mositeng drew Members’ attention to StatsOnline, the Stats SA’s website. There had been special requests for 2011 census data, meetings, and an Annual User Satisfaction Survey.

 

Ms Mositeng noted challenges to date. These included additional space requirements; temporary recruitment at EA level was still being tested – it was aimed to recruit enumerators who were known, at least by face, in the areas in which they would work; consolidation of the first level of supervision; the creation of EAs; and the budget (2011/12).

 

Ms Mositeng said that things to be tested included effectiveness of the publicity programme; the participation of various stakeholders; the delivery of material; the segregation of duties for different management levels (national, provincial and district); quality assurance methodologies and procedures; progress reporting; PES methodology; and recruitment, appointment, administration, payment, termination and reconciliation (RAAPTR).

 

Ms Mositeng concluded that the organisation was on track to undertake the census. There was a continuous testing of systems and institutional arrangements. Financial challenges were being addressed with the National Treasury. There was ongoing research on methodologies for PES, monitoring and quality assurance, publicity research, geography and other evaluation measures.

 

Mr Lehohla indicated what Stats SA was now doing differently from what it had done before. The results of the 2008/09 pilot would be ready by the end of August 2010. In Stats SA’s enquiry into the nature of the undercount, there were a few things that Stats SA would be doing differently. It was planning to have 30 000 EA supervisors. These would be engaged from August 2011, rather than just before the Census, so that these supervisors could have comprehensive lists closer to the time of the census, so that when the enumerators came on the 10 October or five days before hand, the enumerators could work on the basis of this list and begin, and also so that by the end of the census it would be known which areas had not been counted.

 

There would thus be a prior engagement of EA supervisors about two months before the census. Another difference would be the cut-off date would be 31 October 2011, but thereafter there would be ‘a mop up process’. Unlike the 1996 and 2001 censuses, there would be no ‘running from the battlefield’ at the end of the census. The 30 000 EA supervisors would remain in the field to complete remaining counting. Each supervisor would be responsible for about 600 households. If the undercount would be similar to that of 2001, then the number of households per supervisor uncounted would be about 120. It would be incumbent on the supervisor, for the next 10 days, to cover those outstanding 120 households. If this person did 12 households per day, they should be able to complete the outstanding number in those 10 days. Thus by the time Stats SA came out of the field, it would be clear which households had been captured and which had not. Mr Lehohla said that the above was the key instrument for managing the undercount. Stats SA would also be distributing the questionnaires earlier.

 

Discussion

The Chairperson invited questions of clarity.

 

Mr D van Rooyen (ANC) recalled the Committee’s previous engagement on the census in which there were a few suggestions from Members, especially on undercounting, publicity, and the role of municipalities. He asked to what extent these suggestions had been considered. He asked also about the projected budget. This was not clear in the presentation.

 

Ms P Adams (ANC) asked about the partnership programmes (slide 6). Who were the partners engaged in the questionnaire?  She also asked Stats SA who their stakeholders were (slide 13). With regard to the communications strategy, she asked how Stats SA proposed to reach the rural communities, since she believed that these would pose a problem in counting.

 

Ms N Sibhidla (ANC) asked about Stats SA’s strategy for reaching the hard-to-count groups. Secondly, she asked Mr Lehohla to explain more about the pre-2011 mobilisation strategy. Thirdly, she noted that Mr Van Rooyen had anticipated her question on the role of the municipalities.

 

Dr D George (DA) thanked Stats SA for a most useful presentation that provided many insights. He agreed that the Census would probably be the most important event in South Africa in the near future. It had to be as correct as possible. With regard to hard-to-count groups, he asked if he had been given correct figures by the police on a community in his constituency. He noted that there were a great many foreigners there, and that there was much concern about being counted. He asked how Stats SA would ensure that everybody in densely populated, urban informal settlements would be reached and counted, even the so-called illegal foreigners. He also asked to see a copy of the census form. Was it available? There had been concern about the need to collect data on individual’s race. He asked if race was actually part of the census form, and, if so, why was it necessary? If it was necessary, there was perhaps a need for Stats SA to sensitise the population as to why that kind of data was actually necessary.  

 

Mr N Koornhof (COPE) asked what PES meant. He asked about the dress rehearsals (slide 16). What were they, and where would they be conducted? Thirdly, he observed that there would clearly be a shortfall in Stats SA’s budget. What were Stats SA’s expectations and what was the shortfall going to be?

 

Ms N Balindlela Nosimo (COPE) asked Stats SA if it was going to request a contribution from the provinces towards its budget for the census. The previous day, 24 August 2010, she had attended a meeting of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee in which Members had heard about the difficulties in the registration of deaths – difficulties that were such that the Department of Home Affairs was considering introducing an amendment bill. It was important for Stats SA to be aware that there was a backlog of issues as far as Home Affairs was concerned with regard to births and deaths. Lastly she asked about households headed by children. This question related to Ms Sibhidla’s question on the hard-to-reach groups. Ms Nosimo also observed that visits by enumerators were likely to arouse expectations of delivery of housing. This expectation made people hasten to cooperate. She asked what Stats SA proposed to do to avoid unintentionally creating expectations that it was in no position to fulfil.

 

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) asked about the 30 000 EA supervisors. Would Stats SA keep them, so that it could use them in future?

 

Mr Lehohla replied that the initial proposal for the budget was R4.2 billion. If Stats SA were to receive this, it would be equivalent to about R90 (about $12) per head of population to be counted. In a realistic budget that Stats SA was proposing to National Treasury, Stats SA was asking for R2.8 billion in total. That was still a large amount of money. It still made South Africa an expensive environment in which to conduct a census, at about $7 per head of population. He explained why. South Africa was ‘a hybrid’, and being a hybrid created problems. South Africa had an environment that was fairly sophisticated, and yet an environment that was not so sophisticated. The United States and Australia distributed their census questionnaires and received them back by post. Moreover, the census authorities in these countries knew where they had sent the questionnaires. Thereafter, those authorities followed-up intensively. When everything else had failed, they then sent officials to follow-up in person. This was how they achieved their 2% undercount. On the other hand, if Stats SA relied on postal distribution, it could not be sure of knowing where it would have sent all the forms. To deal with this hybrid situation, Stats SA had to distribute forms in person and collect them. This made South Africa an expensive environment in which to conduct a census.

 

Mr Lehohla added that 30 000 EA supervisors would be employed two or three months before the time, and retained for a time afterwards. Thus South Africa could not be in the same league as Uganda, which spent about $0.50 per head, or Nigeria which spent about $2 or $3 per head to count a person. This hybrid situation created serious problems for Stats SA. Secondly, unlike in Nigeria, where the authorities ordered people not to move around at the time of the census, it was doubtful if the same could be done in South Africa. ‘In Iraq you don’t move’. In the United States also members of the public were not allowed to move about, at least in Alaska, where the census authorities depended on members of the public being confined to their houses by heavy accumulations of snow. ‘In Mongolia they use the snow as well.’ Moreover, South Africa was a highly mobile society. This was why South Africa’s unit costs for censuses were so high.

 

Mr Lehohla acknowledged that Stats SA should have circulated the census questionnaire. As Ms Masiteng had said, the questionnaire was based on the principles and recommendations of the United Nations. It was also based on the recommendations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). There had been discussions between 1996 and 1998 on a SADC-compliant census, in particular to take account of the regional movements that were under discussion. A list of topics had been agreed upon. This determined what questions should be asked in the questionnaire, including the principles and recommendations – and those topics were present. Stats SA was, however, considering whether or not the questionnaire was too long. On the other hand, in any consideration of shortening the questionnaire, Stats SA was cautious not to violate the above principles and recommendations.

 

Mr Lehohla acknowledged that with regard to the issue of race, the question on race was not mandatory in terms of the above principles and recommendations. Race, ethnicity and religion were not mandatory. Mr Lehohla mentioned that he had worked in Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, where race, ethnicity and religion were the most burning issues in post-conflict situations. However, in South Africa the issue of race had to do with transformation, and the results of the census informed transformation at a much localized level. It had implications for cities as agents of development. Of course one could factor in occupation and income, but race showed that something more had to be done in the cities, which were not necessarily engines of development but which were rather decadent and the census results demonstrated this. Thus race in South Africa continued to be an important instrument. 

 

Mr Lehohla conceded that Stats SA had omitted an important point, in regard to Ms Balindlela’s observation on the difficulties experienced by the Department of Home Affairs in the registration of deaths; Stats SA had focused on South Africa, but there was another important element of work that Stats SA did; in 2006 the then Minister of Finance, the Hon. Mr Trevor Manuel, had called all African heads of statistics to a conference in Cape Town. The simple question that was asked was what the population of the continent of Africa was. The statisticians present could not answer that question. This question was very important for South Africa. So then Minister Manuel had asked how he could help the statisticians. He asked all his fellow ministers to pay attention to censuses. All countries on the continent, except ‘the pirates in Somalia’, now had committed themselves to conducting a census. This was a major achievement which had been driven by us in South Africa.

 

Mr Lehohla observed that the above-mentioned ministers had noted that serial registration was a major agenda item. Now that African nations had established the principle of universal counts, the next priority of the African Symposia for Statistical Development was to cast the net wider to see how all the links connected.  

 

Ms Mositeng added that Stats SA had worked with the Department of Home Affairs to publish the data that it received from the Department on deaths. The data that it would publish on the deaths would not be the data that Stats SA collected statistically; it would be data taken from Home Affairs. Stats SA also mined the Home Affairs population register. It was becoming clear that the registers were becoming more and more complete. There was thus a good relationship. Stats SA had also attended the conference about which Mr Lehohla had spoken, where there had been discussion on the benefits of comparing population registers and census results.

 

Ms Mositeng said that there was an issue of how the perceptions would be dealt with. Stats SA would examine how it could elevate the mood of the country to the level at which it allow the people to understand the nature and purpose of a census. This was why Stats SA was talking about a countdown from 10 October 2010 until census counting itself. In that period Stats SA would try to anticipate some of the questions that people would have, and use all the media that Mr Risenga Maluleke, Deputy-Director: Corporate Relations, Stats SA, would talk about in terms of making sure that the mood was correct and that the participation would be informed by proper understanding of what people expected.  Stats SA took note of the experience of other countries such as the United States, which informed people that they would not be asked questions on certain subjects, such as their money.

 

Ms Mositeng said that the questionnaire began from the assumption that there was a housing and population census. The primary responsibility of the work done by Stats SA was to make sure that there was population information. This related to the issue of race, which played a critical role in demographic variables. For example, one knew from present information that about 79% of the population of South Africa was black; and one to two per cent was indian. This information related to the structure and distribution of the population. 

 

Ms Mositeng said that the questions that Stats SA used were to make sure that by the end of the census, Stats SA would understand the structure of the population and how many people were in the country. This was the primary basis of the census and head count. What would follow was the segregation of data into gender. These were the main objectives. Then Stats SA considered households and access to services. This is where the role of municipalities was relevant. The meetings on stakeholder relations since 2008 had informed the content of the questionnaire. If Stats SA had agreed to everything requested, the questionnaire could have become 75 pages long. Therefore Stats SA asked itself if there was any other source that could provide the required information. If not, it asked itself if there was any other way to put questions to elicit this kind of information into its survey programme, and then examine what the core questions were. She regretted that Stats SA had not circulated the questionnaire, but she estimated that it was currently around 13 pages in length. Currently there was a dress rehearsal questionnaire. This would be circulated to Members.

 

Mr Calvin Mdongoana, Project Director: Population Census, Stats SA, responded on the dress rehearsal and community mobilization. The dates April 2010 to March 2011 as given on the slides might be a little misleading. Ideally in a dress rehearsal, one was duplicating what one would do in the real situation. That did not involve only the enumeration phase itself. It involved logistics, recruitment, systems and processes. All these were phases preparatory to enumeration itself. However, as Ms Mositeng had indicated, Stats SA had already started with the preparatory work. To date, supervisors had been appointed for the dress rehearsal. Therefore the supervisors were doing what Stats SA called the listing of those structures to inform the management of the enumeration phase.  A countrywide sample of 720 enumeration areas had been drawn. There was testing of teachers as possible enumeration supervisors. In six other provinces, Stats SA was testing the use of the unemployed. This was towards achieving Stats SA’s target of reducing the undercount.

 

Mr Mdongoana said that the 30 000 EA supervisors, for the work that Stats SA did annually, would be unnecessary, since it already had a permanent fieldwork force for the work that it did regularly. Therefore if the 30 000 EA supervisors were to be retained after the census, it was unlikely that they would be fully utilized. There was already a cadre of staff who examined the Stats SA annual programme. However, the 6 000 fieldwork coordinators would be engaged earlier with a training programme provided. Such coordinators might be eligible for retention.

 

Mr Mdongoana said these hard-to-reach groups were categorised differently. For example, Stats SA was already engaging with estate managers on how to reach persons in secure estates, because of the restriction of access to those areas.  Security officers might be trained for that purpose. Schools might also be used as a vehicle to gain entry to hard-to-access groups.

 

Mr Lehohla added that usually teachers were the best people to undertake censuses. However, in 1996 there had been a change of policy towards taking anyone who was available, and this led to a loss of collective memory. Perhaps there would have to be a reconsideration of policy.

 

Mr Maluleke responded that Stats SA had not begun to engage the municipalities as regards the census specifically, but had a very good relationship with the municipalities, because it was there that Stats SA collected its financial statistics, the audited financial statements of the municipalities. However, since Stats SA’s previous visit to the Committee, it had strengthened its leadership of Stats SA personnel at the district level.

 

Mr Maluleke said that Mr Mdongoana had already spoken about the high-walled estates or estates. There was also the problem of the farms. However, Stats SA had a long relationship with farmers. It was important to establish a level of trust and for enumerators to be clearly identifiable as such. Targeted messages were necessary to ensure that respondents did not ignore children. Stats SA had not experienced serious problems with outreach to rural communities. Their cooperation was always maximal. Stats SA usually reached them through the system of traditional leadership or through the civic structures.  However, it was to be noted that the traditional leadership structures and civic structures were struggling for the control of the rural communities. However, they hardly ever blocked Stats SA’s access to the rural communities. The place mentioned in Dr George’s constituency had in the 2001 census 27 125 males and 22 607 females and the total population was 49 733. However, if one drove along the N14, there were also informal settlements beyond the Misty Hills area. Dr Jairo Arrow, Deputy Director-General, Methodology and Standards, was able to keep Stats SA informed. With informal settlements, unless they were moved by Government, they tended to remain much longer. Those in the Misty Hills area had been there for two and a half years. On a farm one often found an informal settlement. However, the inhabitants tended to move en masse when they lost their employment, which was often, since agricultural work was seasonal. Therefore, Stats SA intended to deal with listing nearer to the date of the actual count, in order to manage such volatile movement. 

 

Mr Lehohla asked Mr Ashwell Jenneker, Deputy Director-General, Statistical Support and Informatics, to deal with geographical matters.  

 

Mr Ashwell Jenneker, Deputy Director-General, Statistical Support and Informatics, responded that PN stood for place name. EA stood for enumerated area. Stats SA firstly divided the country into place names, and then into enumerated areas. Stats SA sought the cooperation of municipalities in verifying its categorization of place names. He referred Members to the maps that he had distributed to them, and the example of Ndebeli. The place names were very important units of dissemination of information. The first map was an orientation map.

The second map was an index map to show the enumerator where the dwelling units were that he needed to count. 

 

Dr Arrow replied that PES stood for post enumeration survey. This survey took place immediately after the census. The purpose was to run a control. The houses that were visited were kept secret from the census team. The purpose was to replicate the census in those households that had been selected to evaluate how well the population had been covered.

 

Mr Maluleke replied that’ Stats SA did count illegal immigrants, but avoided direct questioning about the legality of their status. Information on such people was important because of their use of services.

 

Dr Arrow added that it was important to emphasise the secrecy of the PES team.

 

Mr Lehohla stressed that this team was independent. He did not know what areas the team had sampled until it had come out of the field. Stats SA would later clarify the role of premiers and members of provincial legislatures. The role of Members of Parliament was very clear in that they had to support this effort and encourage citizens to participate for various reasons, including the rational basis of service delivery. It would be appropriate in 2011 in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to indicate that the next big event, after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, was the census. Ms Balindlela’s question on whether municipalities and provinces should budget for the census was an interesting one. It was necessary to express the need for data, and make provision for needed resources accordingly. It was at present difficult to quantify the national effort in the gathering of statistics. Stats SA was battling with this question at present.    

 

Ms Sibhidla asked a follow-up question on the hard-to-count groups. She asked if there were any other similar groups, like the sex workers, truck drivers, and sailors. She asked also about the pilot to be launched in October.

Which areas in which provinces would be piloted? She asked Mr Maluleke about the high-walled communities or estates. What had been the response from the estate agents, the farmers and the security companies? 

 

The Chairperson said that one of the hard-to-count constituencies would be the no-go areas. In such areas, landlords could hardly collect rents. He mentioned specifically Hillbrow. To a lesser extent Sunnyside in Pretoria was becoming similar. He was sure one would find such places in Durban. He joked that he had seen some areas in Cape Town at night, and wondered if such places were safe to visit by day – it was an interesting question. The other issue that Mr Lehohla had raised was that South Africa was highly mobile. Sometimes we were more mobile than capital itself. Some countries that Mr Lehohla had mentioned used enlightened dictatorship to assist in census taken. Others had the assistance of natural phenomena such as very heavy accumulations of winter snow. Perhaps there was a need for a message that people must rally around this national effort. He noted that South Africans, while warmly welcoming of visitors, were becoming less patient in parting with information. This was informed by the relentless intrusion of telesales personnel. He asked if the United Nations recommendations took account of South Africans’ reluctance to part with information. He said that even ordinary people in the street would be reluctant to give 15 minutes of their time to answer questions. Stats SA’s form needed to take account of this.    

 

Mr Van Rooyen asked about the countdown which would begin on 10 October 2010. What did this entail? He wanted to find ways of encouraging South Africans to engage with the census and harness the enthusiasm that the World Cup had generated.

 

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA had been successful in counting the homeless in 1996. It was important to identify them in good time.  People who lived in shacks, as in one person households generally were very hard to count as it was hard to find someone home. Stats SA was examining how many more subsequent questions cold be included in the questionnaire. Council was already pointing Stats SA in that direction. Stats SA was recommending to Parliament that it was necessary to recruit people earlier and keep them longer and secondly the possibility of a census day. In Iraq, even in the present situation, people were ready to accept census because they received a public holiday. If you tied people down, and did the counting in one day, one could achieve better coverage. However, establishing a public holiday would entail hiring four times as many people because of the more intensive collection census returns.

 

Mr Maluleke responded that the homeless had been counted in 1996 and 2001; this encouraged others, who had not been counted, to ask why not. The problem with mobile workers like truck drivers arose when they lived alone, since counting was by household. It was important that enumerators knew the people in their areas. Media campaigns had been mounted to enlist the cooperation of mobile workers. It was hoped to obtain the championship of the President or other high ranking person to support the census campaign. Following the launch would be targeted messages to hard-to-count groups. It was hoped not to lose out on the momentum in the community from the 2010 World Cup.

 

Mr Mdongoana noted that it should be a community-centred census. In each settlement there was need for a resident enumerator to strengthen trust. Much had been learned from high-walled estates that had been cooperative. Pilot projects were taking place throughout the country. In some so-called no go areas, it might be necessary to engage illegal immigrants to count illegal immigrants in order to get the required information. Stats SA was seeking ambassadors for the census. In most cases when people refused to cooperate, it was because they did not understand the need for the census. Educational programmes were needed.

 

Mr Lehohla said that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had written to President Zuma to inform him that the 40th session of the United Nations Statistics Commission had agreed that 20 October 2010 should be World Statistics Day. The Statistics Commission had been the first Commission of the United Nations established, in 1947, after the Second World War. Thus South Africa’s census launch was part of celebrating this day. The matter was already in the hands of the President.

 

Dr Howard Gabriels, Chairperson, Statistics Council, said that the Council had been studying detailed presentations with the management team. He acknowledged the political requirement for a substantially reduced undercount. Thus a large part of the Council’s focus had been on this. Hence the whole plan of the enumerated areas was very important. The plan to do the final listing in the last few months was in recognition of the highly mobile nature of the population. The Council was examining very detailed plans for the fieldwork. The logistics was very important. Another hard-to-count group was white males between 21 and 30 years of age, because they tended to live in flats and were not often at home. The Council had given detailed consideration to the notion of a public holiday, but recommended against it as people would tend to make a long weekend of it and go away from home. The Council agreed that a shorter questionnaire might be desirable. Dr Gabriels said that the role of Parliament would be important in a non-partisan way. The Council was very happy with the progress achieved and was confident that the results of the census would be a fair reflection of the demographics of the country.

 

The Chairperson asked when the 30 000 EA supervisors would enter the field.

 

Mr Lehohla responded that they should enter the field in August 2011. By 30 November 2011 they must be out of the field, and then the post enumeration survey would begin. 120 000 enumerators would be deployed at the beginning of October 2011 and withdrawn at the end of October. Stats SA still owed the Committee a report on the results of pilot projects. The report was expected to be ready at the end of August.  

 

The Chairperson looked forward to receiving this report. He thought that Stats SA’s recommendation for earlier recruitment deserved to be considered by the Committee. The report should assist in this matter. Parliament would have a critical role in ensuring that the importance of the census was understood. It must be a community-driven project, especially with regard to the hard-to-count people, and the so-called illegal immigrants. He referred to the Identity Document (ID) campaign of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in preparation for the previous election.  He asked for a summary of the Stats SA mobilization strategy. He thought that the engagement of workers for the census would assist in alleviating, temporarily, youth unemployment.

 

The Chairperson thanked Stats SA and the Statistics Council for a valuable interaction. 

 

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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