Statistics South Africa 2009/10 Annual Report: Ministerial & entity briefings

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Finance Standing Committee

19 October 2010
Chairperson: Ms N Sibhidla (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Statistics SA and Minister Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency, briefed the Committee on the 2009/10 Annual Report of Statistics SA (Stats SA). Mr Manuel highlighted Stats SA’s fourth consecutive unqualified audit, and noted that Census 2011 was formally launched on 10 October 2010, and urged that all public and civil society officials must become ambassadors and persuade people of the purpose and importance of being counted. It was noted that 20 October was World Statistics Day. Stats SA had assisted in coordinating and presenting the statistics for the UN Country Report on the Millennium Development Goals. Stats SA underscored the importance of statistics as the cornerstone of decision making, and to provide basic macro-economic and social information to inform decision making and promote democracy. Statistics were needed to consider economic growth, price stability, employment and job creation, life circumstances, service delivery and poverty and demographic profiles and population dynamics. Some of the initiatives taken, and the challenges, in collating statistics in pursuance of the information for each category, were outlined. It was noted that although Stats SA received an unqualified audit, there were three matters of emphasis, in relation to overtime approvals, for which additional controls had now been introduced, for damage to vehicles, which was being addressed through early warning systems and change of ownership to the drivers to promote responsibility, and the under spending, which was explained by rollovers having been approved. Much had been done in the last year to improve planning, reporting and monitoring, so there were not adverse findings on performance management. The number of people trained, the introduction of new risk management systems, and gender and demographic profiles of staff were outlined. The importance of Census 2011 was set out. Stats SA believed it was now a credible organisation that could hold its own internationally and was achieving well in terms of its resource allocation. However, it was concerned that information was not known as to how many businesses there were, and that could offer employment, as it was vital to get this information to assess how to finance and prioritise development goals.

Members questioned the satellite accounts of Stats SA and their impact on certain priorities, the impact of the delays in collating some information, and asked why the Maths4Stats training project not run in all provinces. They asked whether local authorities and community based organisations were stakeholders, asked who would be counted and how, with specific reference to children living in Lesotho but being schooled in South Africa, and illegal immigrants. Members asked why Stats SA appeared to be top-heavy, and enquired about the staff salary increases, the intern programme and from where, and how, the interns were recruited, as also whether they would be employed. Members questioned the 53% completion of the dwelling frame project, and noted that provision of addresses to all was urgent. Members called for explanation on the matters of emphasis by the Auditor-General, commented that over and under spending seemed to indicate lack of planning.  They asked if it was possible to compile indicators on service delivery, whether the poverty line index was still used, noted that ambassador packs for promotion of the census would be sent, asked about the implications of false marriages, and failure to register child deaths, as well as of incomplete maternal mortality statistics, on the census, and asked if information on lack of formal education was submitted to the relevant department. 

Mr Lehohla then briefed Members on the content of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report that had been presented to the UN General Assembly. He reminded Members that these were agreed to by 189 countries in 2000, and that in South Africa a National Coordination Committee had been established to deal with policy and governance around them, with seven sectoral groups being established. He outlined the major goals and dealt with South Africa’s achievements under each. He noted a decline in the proportion of the population that lived below the poverty line, but poverty was still a severe challenge in South Africa, with gaps between relative and extreme poverty, whilst the measure of inequality was high. In respect of primary education, there had been increases in the net enrolment for females, in the functional literacy rate of 15 to 24 year olds and completion of primary education. Poor learners benefited through no-fee schools, free transport and feeding schemes. Gender equality increased in education and in Parliament, but the share of non-agricultural wages to women remained below half. Infant mortality rates remained stable at 53 deaths per 1 000 live births, but the under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality rose, despite the fact that more births were attended by skilled health personnel, and antenatal care increased. Life expectancy from birth dropped. HIV spread may have been stabilised in those over 2 years old, and more people had access to antiretroviral drugs, but deaths associated with tuberculosis rose. More women than men were being tested for HIV. The numbers of species threatened with extinction had almost quadrupled in the past 20 years, while carbon dioxide emissions were increasing. The proportions of slum dwellers remained static, but those with access to improved drinking water sources had improved. The percentages of foreign direct investment, compared to gross domestic project, had dropped although GDP per capita increased and expenditure on research and development rose to 0.9% of GDP in 2007. Stats SA also commented on some matters not included in the report, which included the numbers of people living on US$1 per day, and stressed the need to test them also against geographic spread and gender and age. The apparent progress on MDG did not address the quality of services. South Africa had raised some concerns whether developing countries could meet the MDGs. There was a need for more domestic indicators as well as to disaggregate this data, and Stats SA urged partnerships with civil society to ensure delivery.

Members were generally appreciative of this report, but asked for clarity on the legitimacy of the statistics, the processes followed, the decline in poverty and how this was measured, the essential directions from the Cabinet decision of 15 September, and how the statistics, particularly those for women’s share of non-agricultural wages, functional literacy and mortality rates, translated into reality. They noted that no comment was made on drop-outs of women from higher learning institutions, that the quality of service was not addressed and that although environmental stability was measured, climate change was not mentioned. Members stressed that there was a need for all entities to cooperate and combine their statistics, and Minister Manuel in turn urged Members to stress the importance of keeping proper statistics to other departments, and urged them to take ownership of the MDGs.

Meeting report

Statistics South Africa 2009/10 Annual Report
Minister Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission, noted that Statistics SA would at this meeting discharge its obligation for its Accounting Officer to account to Parliament for monies allocated and spent during the 2009/10 financial year. Parliament would compare the strategic objectives and work plan against the spending to gauge whether those objectives had been fulfilled with the money allocated.

Mr Manuel further said that, when matters were discussed with Mr Mufamadi last year, it was agreed that this would also provide a good opportunity to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), not only with this Committee but all other Parliamentary committees as they needed to know whether the policies of government were actually advancing those MDG. A few weeks ago the Statistician-General, together with Ministers of Social Development and of International Cooperation, had tabled a report on the MDG to the United Nations General Assembly.

Statistics South Africa was an independent body, reporting to the Minister, to ensure that statistics released were trusted, that the methodology was checked, and so on. Ms Gloria Khumalo was Deputy Chair of the Statistics Council, which comprised of both national and provincial representatives.

He noted that, for the fourth consecutive year, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) had received a clean audit. Stats SA would be speaking to the preparations for Census 2011, launched on 10 October 2010. Census 2011 was fundamentally important because there had been an undercount in the previous census. He noted that Stats SA was not a “policeman” for the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), as it did not question whether a person had papers. It was important that all public representatives, from Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, and provincial legislatures to elected councillors in municipalities, must be involved in familiarising broader constituencies on the importance of being counted, and thus Stats SA was asking for the active support of parliamentarians and other public representatives in making the census a success.

20 October 2010 had been declared World Statistics Day by the UN Secretary General, and there was worldwide engagement on the value of decision making.

Mr Pali Lehohla, Statistician General, Stats SA agreed that it was vital for the organisation to account to Parliament and the public of South Africa as to what it had done with the money given to it last year, and how it was applied. The presentation would cover the four major areas of organisational performance, financial performance, MDG, and Census 2011. Throughout, the emphasis was on statistics as the cornerstone for decision-making. Society needed basic macro economic and social information to inform decision-making in the pubic and private sector, in order to deliver democracy. Statistics were needed to engage in the arenas of economic growth, price stability, employment and job creation, life circumstances, service delivery and poverty. They were also needed to determine the demographic profile and population dynamics of the country.

He noted that in the area of economic growth, the development outcome was to create decent employment through economic growth. For statistical information on the primary, secondary, tertiary and transport sectors, the performance was measured by short-term indicators. Monthly, quarterly and annual series were published as scheduled. For large sample surveys, seven series commenced as scheduled. Publications on Agriculture and Accommodation were published late. He noted that increasing attention was paid to deflators (the process of converting nominal values to constant), seasonal adjustment methods, and maintaining good time series data, improvement and product capability. The key priority, to benchmark and rebase annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates, was achieved.

The development outcome for price stability was to create decent employment through inclusive economic growth. Stats SA was concerned about the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since, although it was published as scheduled, it needed re-working. Stats SA was focusing on the review of the Produce Price Index (PPI). The Income and Expenditure Survey (IES) pilot was conducted, as scheduled. The challenges in this area included the need to develop a suite of independent PPIs over a period of several years, the need to review and improve on several areas in the CPI, incorporating international trends such as quality adjustment of products, enhanced satellite surveys of housing, health and domestic workers wages. Stats SA was gearing up for a new round of reweighting and rebasing of the CPI.

The development outcome for employment and job creation was to create decent employment through inclusive economic growth. Statistical information on the labour market was made up of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), which was published as scheduled. Statistical information on employment and earnings was done through the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), which was also published as scheduled. He noted that improvements had been made to the QLFS through the introduction of supplementary modules to measure employers and the self-employed, and earnings. It had also developed and tested a supplementary module to measure the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). There was a need for better integration between QES and QLFS.

In respect of life circumstances, service delivery and poverty, the key outcomes of government were to create sustainable human settlements and achieve improved quality of household life, and to build a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system. Stats SA provided statistics on
poverty in South Africa in multiple dimensions. It had presented papers on the poverty line. The issue of poverty was very broad, and the key priority in 2009/10 had been the Living Conditions Survey data collection, which was completed in October as scheduled. The General Household Survey (GHS) was published late, but the Non-financial Census on Municipalities (QES) was published early. Analytical capability remained a challenge.

The key outcomes for obtaining statistics on demographic profile and population dynamics were focused on creating sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life, building a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system, improving healthcare and life expectancy among all South Africans, and developing vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities that contributed to adequate food supply, as well as improving the quality of basic education. The key priority for this statistical information was Population Census 2011. A census pilot was conducted in November 2009.

Mr Lehohla said that the recent MDG Report showed gaps in demographic and health data. The registration of births was problematic, probably because of the child support grants, and Stats SA had serious problems in finding the causes. The data on maternal mortality was not as accurate as it should be.

It was important to speak of the practicalities around improving statistical products and services. He noted that letters could only arrive at places where there was an address. A priority of government was to have completed 53% of dwelling frames, but this was not achieved at municipal level. 9.4 million points, or 68% of dwellings, had been incorporated under the dwelling frame.

Mr Lehohla then outlined some of the challenges faced. In attempting to achieve single integrated business management systems, slow progress had been made on the intergovernmental project between South African Revenue Services (SARS), Stats SA, National Treasury and Department of Trade and Industry (dti). However, on the achievements side, statistical support was provided to Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) on data analysis and quality improvement. The South African Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF) was applied extensively on the MDG, and was gazetted as a quality assessment framework for statistical production, and training was conducted. The Department of Science and Technology was assessed and confirmed against SASQF.

He noted that Stats SA statistics were used not only in South Africa, but by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in Africa, and worldwide. Stakeholder relations were achieved through close management, marketing and communication, and Stats SA noted the successful hosting of the ISI2009, and World Cup. However, Stats SA had some problems in addressing the information gap, quality gap and skills gap in the South African National Statistics System (SANSS).

In the field of education, which was vital for all children to raise their living conditions, Stats SA provide support and held lessons for teachers. 188 Maths4Stats workshops were held across the country as well as the Census@School model in KwaZulu-Natal. A partnership was established with the Chair of the University of Stellenbosch, to promote urban and regional statistics.

Stats SA built capacity through an internship programme that supported 40 interns per year, which, although insufficient to address the needs fully, at least assisted towards this. They were recruited for university before coming to Stats SA. Isabalo Legacy Project addressed statistical development in Africa, and beneficiaries of this were Stats SA staff, NSS partners, SADC and other African countries. Foreign study programmes were initiated in Tanzania, Uganda and the Ivory Coast.

Financial statements presentation
Mr Lehohla confirmed that Stats SA received an unqualified audit for the fourth consecutive year. However, there were three matters of emphasis, and action was taken to address all. Firstly, additional controls for overtime approval were implemented, secondly, Stats SA was in the process of developing an early warning system to monitor damages to vehicles. In respect of the under and over spending, he clarified that a rollover was approved, of  R96,888, for Census 2011, which revised the actual under spending down to R62 505
He set out the allocations of funding, noting that the total for 2009/2010 was R1.7 billion, compared with R1.3 billion in 2008/09. A further R403 million allocation was for the census. These allocations were adequate.

Stats SA had attended to planning, reporting and monitoring, and there were no adverse findings on performance management. 33 staff members were trained in project management. New risk management systems were introduced. There was a vacancy rate of 18%, with a staff turnover of 1.1%. There was 1.4% staff with disabilities 1.4%. 40.2% of Senior Management staff were women. A number of contract staff were employed. There was integration between strategic and operational planning, reporting and monitoring. An invoice tracking system and Commitments Authorisation Schedule Tool were developed and implemented, which achieved payment of 97% suppliers within 30 days. Bi-annual asset verification was introduced.

Mr Lehohla then outlined the work on the Millenium Development Goals. Stats SA coordinated production of data through a national coordination committee, and joint working groups, and also publicised it through the National Methodology Workshop, target setting and consultation with government and civil society stakeholders. Data quality was assured, and Stats SA coordinated the compilation and dissemination of the MDG Country Report.

Mr Lehohla said that Population Census 2011 was to be the most comprehensive source of evidence on intervention programmes, which would be central to evidence based policy and decision-making. The public was expected to “open its heart and house” and there was substantial encouragement to communities to participate honestly. This was launched at 10:10 on 10 October 2010, and considerable media coverage was received, and provincial launches were continuing. He reiterated that World Statistics Day, under the theme of “Many Achievements of Official Statistics” was celebrated on 20 October.

He urged that every public representative, including parliamentarians, religious leaders and traditional authorities, should be a non-partisan ambassador for Census 2011, in order to assist public mobilisation, access to difficult areas for Stats SA, promote the need for and use of official statistics, promote the benefits to the public, carry the brand, and, finally, hold Stats SA to account.

In conclusion, Mr Lehohla said Stats SA was credible and could hold its own globally, as demonstrated by the hosting of the International Statistics Institute, had worked its way to stability and emphasised its intellectual growth to work from strength to strength. Statistics were being increasingly used. He was pleased with what had been achieved with the resources available.

Mr D van Rooyen (ANC) noted from the Annual Report that the Water Index was discontinued in the first quarter and replaced with the document Water Management Areas of South Africa, scheduled for completion in September 2010. He asked if this had been completed, as it was a priority of government, and what its impact was on management of  water quality.

Dr Rashaad Cassim, Head: Economics, Stats SA, responded that in the area of water management, it was important to understand that Stats SA produced satellite or non-core accounts, tied to the national account. “Non-core accounts” meant those that Stats SA could attend to, as important topical policy issues. He said that this included other matters such as contributions of tourism to the economy. National accounts were based on requests from a number of departments, where data would be put into a particular framework. This particular framework was physical usage of water, per GDP, and the data was used for particular kinds of economic analysis. Statistics on water quality came from that particular data within that framework, a generally economic framework that allowed for analysis on that topic, which was only one form of analysis.

Mr van Rooyen referred to the income and expenditure methodology, citing some delays referred to on Page 19 of the Annual Report, arising from human resources constraints. He asked what had been the impact of the delay on the market, and other stakeholders who used the information for decision-making. He asked if targets were affected by this problem.

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA was looking into this. Ideally, Stats SA would determine the ideal time, resources, human resources and financial resources for ideal deployment, an its project management and project-reporting systems would hopefully allow it to achieve that, through identifying when a particular individual was free and could be moved. However, there were some problems in compliance, because of timing of projects, and short and long term deployment of skilled staff. Improvements were achieved through project-plan systems,. Economic statistics were a fairly stable environment, but there was far more fluidity in areas such as population and social statistics, as well as the Census, where planning and movement of finance thus both had to be flexible.

Mr van Rooyen noted that the Report had said that the data process for living conditions should be completed around April 2010, but he noted that the statistics would only be completed in January 2011, and noted that the analysis would thus be affected by the delay

Mr van Rooyen understood that the On the Maths4Stats training project was not distributed across all the provinces, and asked how it was distributed, and what were the plans for other areas.

Ms Nombuyiselo Mokoena, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, Stats SA,  responded that Stats SA worked with the Department of Education, who organised the teachers, so workshops depended on how many teachers could be obtained, and where they were. Eastern Cape, for instance, had begun very slowly and KwaZulu Natal would work with other provinces, while some provinces took longer to employ coordinators and trainers. Priority was given to schools where there were maths teachers.

Mr van Rooyen noted that the Committee had emphasised the need to take local authorities and community based organisations on board to popularise the Census 2011 campaign, yet they were not included in the targeted stakeholders. This Committee still believed they were vital to the process.

Ms Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Director General: Population and Social Statistics, responded that the stakeholders had been consulted, but still had to address the change in methodology, and to explain the purpose of the income data in IES.

Dr Cassim added that civil society had been very helpful, as illustrated by the work for the MDG Report. Stats SA attended meetings in every province, where civil society asked questions about reports and numbers, and these structures would continue to be used. However, publicity teams in Stats SA also met with leaders of civic structures and opinion makers at local level and traditional leaders. Local people would be hired to perform the census, partially because they would be able to identify those who were regarded as leaders, to reach out to all people.

He noted that the next census would be different, and could not be based on numbers alone. Because it was a society and community based census, MP involvement would be critical. Stats SA was mindful of the local government elections next year, and beyond that, would step up its work on the Census 2011, working more closely with MPs in their constituencies. The President must also call on the nation to be counted. The census would count everyone living within the borders of South Africa, irrespective of whether they did so legally, because they were provided with services, and Stats SA also wanted MPs and leaders to persuade those who did not hold papers also to be counted.

Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) acknowledged the improvements and Stats SA’s attempts to take the Committee’s recommendations on board. However, she had some concerns. Stats SA appeared to be top-heavy and she wondered if the R22 million allocations were affected by its six Deputy Director Generals, although she understood the general salaries adjustment for contracted staff.

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA, in order to coordinate a national strategic system, had to be driven by its intellectual capacity. From 2000 onwards, it reduced its lower staff levels to concentrate on top officials, but that was not wasteful, and increasingly Stats SA must be top-heavy, because of the nature of the work, particularly when it moved to dealing with registers.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana was worried that the dwelling frame project was only 53% completed. In her area, about three quarters of the population had not been allocated an address. This would mean problems in under-counting.

Mr Ashwell Jenneker, Deputy Director General: Statistical Support and Information Management, Stats SA,  explained that a dwelling frame was a dwelling identified at a point on a map, that had a unique number associated with it. This would be used in the database, where specific references were attached to that point and printed on the map, so that enumerators could use that when doing their census. There were important considerations around this. Firstly, it was undesirable that only those in urban areas should be assigned addresses. Secondly, the dwelling frame should be up to date for Census 2011. The 53% related to municipalities’ records, and Stats SA had collected 9.4 million out a possible 14 million points, or 68%. However, the dwelling frame process was slower than ideal, and there was no maintenance programme in place to ensure that there was an update every year. The numbering was going ahead, and SASQAF had already assigned 23 million numbers, and Stats SA was trying to ensure that numbers given by SASQAF, Eskom and the municipality did not conflict. Stats SA was working the methodology for and printing numbers for SASQAF, who would then assign them.

Mr Jenneker said the dwelling frame commenced in 2005, and at that time, it aimed to get complete coverage of all the enumerating areas in the country, and to say how many dwellings were in each. Since then, there had been significant developments in imagery, similar to Google Earth, and the 9.4 million points already available were supported by good imagery, which allowed for drawing of boundaries. In addition, Stats SA would validate after boundaries were drawn, to ensure that all enumerator areas fed into Census 2011 were properly done. Place names demarcation was 92% complete, and EAD demarcations were 66% complete. By January 2011 all demarcations should be done to allow validation and quality assurance on the ground. Every enumerator would have a map by October.

Stats SA wanted to have a complete dwelling frame. It had formed partnerships with Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) who were collecting farm data, and was working with the Post Office and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to put all points from the different departments on to one map, after which it would work with municipalities to keep them updated, at least bi-annually. R300 million had been spent so far, and this was not sustainable, but imagery would allow more points to be identified more quickly and at lower cost.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana appreciated the unqualified report, but asked for an explanation of fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R262 million. She also asked why the review of disclosure notes were not addressed in the presentation, and what was happening in this regard.

Ms Semphele Thobejane, Chief Financial Officer, Stats SA, corrected Ms Dlamini-Dubazana, noting the amount was R263 thousand, not million. Stats SA took it seriously and was investigating why people had failed to attend work or training, although it conceded that field and contract workers may be ill on the day. Most cases were investigated and some produced medical certificates to indicate that they could not do the work.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana noted that although the programmes had done well, some had over spent, while others under spent, which seemed to indicate lack of planning.

Ms Thobejane said that Mr Lehohla had explained that movement could happen in a cluster. The finance unit of Stats SA was in transition to another cluster. One of the improvements would be integration of planning and resource allocation, which would address some problems.

Dr D George (DA) noted comments on service delivery and poverty. He asked what the indicator on service delivery was, and whether it would be possible for Stats SA, for example, to develop an indicator on the scale of 1 to 10 to illustrate what service delivery was actually happening.

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA had an experimental development index framework, which assembled a set of different indices across time, and which it was trying to combine into an indicator, using weigh-in schemes. At the moment, the indices were based on December reports. For the years between censuses, Stats SA was recommending that district council information could be used, which would allow comparisons across time and population size and determine which index best fitted the population.

Dr George asked if there was still to be a poverty line index.

Mr Lehohla responded that the work on the poverty line was completed and supported by a paper. Apart from compiling the MDG Report, Stats SA also published a report on the population who fell above and below the line, but many more explicit statements should be made, and the information would be used in Stats SA reports. The Living Conditions Survey would give a lot more meaning to that line, because of the many dimensions of, and views on poverty.

Ms Masiteng spoke to the methodology for IEF, and said there were two studies that spoke to poverty. However, the objective had to change, for IEF 2010/11, based on the poverty measurements and move towards concentrated production of the CPI for the next three years. Data collection for SPF was completed in October 2010, and the same group of people would be working on EIF 2010/11, which created some problems in planning for IEF whilst also trying to coordinate SPF finalisation. However, Stats SA would complete IEF according to plan. The LCF that was produced in January would include work on the poverty line, but an analytical sort on the different dimensions would take more time. The poverty line was used for understanding of money lending. The poverty line developed in 2008 had been updated with the CPI in2009 and 2010. The SPF would then be able to indicate both what the poverty line was, and the profile of the poor. SPF would be published in four phases;  namely the January profile, then issues around women and children, including health issues.

Dr George said that in relation to damage to vehicles, he would like to hear more about the early warning system, and recommended further driving training if this was the issue.

Mr Lehohla agreed that there must be driver testing. Stats SA had a tracking system that picked up behaviour that was likely to result in an accident. Stats SA was also moving to better risk-sharing by making the individuals the owners, so they would take more care.

Dr George agreed with the suggestion that MPs should be ambassadors for the census, which was a vital exercise that would drive future work. He asked what they would be expected to do, and whether there were any messages or information packs for them.

Mr Calvin Molongoana, Project Director: Census 2011, Stats SA, responded that the ambassadors’ packs had not yet been put together but all parliamentarians would receive a pack.

Mr M Motimele (ANC) was interested to hear what impact bogus marriages would have on the census.

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA would have to trust that the people were telling the truth, although Stats SA also had some instruments to verify information. DHA also compiled information, such as whether the marriage was ordained. Birth certificates were available for 90% of births in South Africa, and although he conceded that false births and marriages could be reported, given human nature, this should not reduce the integrity of the census.

Mr Motimele said the Committee was not trying to micro-manage the institution, but was interested in assuring its quality, given its assistance in monitoring service delivery and identifying priority needs.

Mr Motimele asked for a further explanation on the matters of emphasis. The Auditor-General (AG) had mentioned lack of basic financial discipline, proper record keeping and management, and the need to review the preparation of financial statements. He asked what was being done to address that.

Ms Thobejane responded to the AG’s reports around lack of financial discipline, and the disclosure notes. There had been lack of understanding by the process value chain partners, who would not traditionally have been expected to have a financial background. Management was conducting in-house training. The Chief Financial Officer would need to receive disclosure statements on a monthly basis, which required that a checklist on 28 items be completed. Monthly audit progress meeting were held for partners to report progress, and to address any challenges.

Ms Matladi asked for clarification why 1113 SMS members failed to submit performance agreements, and asked what had been done to address this.

Ms Matladi also asked what kind of skills were needed, and whether there was an inventory of them.

Mr Lehohla responded that Stats SA was to put a strategy to Council in November, which would identify skills gaps at both national and provincial levels.

Ms Matladi said that the Financial and Fiscal Commission reported, it noted that no department was obliged to take its recommendations, but it would be useful to coordinate with the work that it had done.

Ms Matladi was worried about coordinating the Lesotho pupils who attended school daily in South Africa.

Mr Lehohla responded that the census would count where people had their regular homes where they slept each night. The children would be included in a census on schools.

Ms Matladi noted that not only might there be bogus marriages, but people might describe their sex differently.

Mr Lehohla said that this could create problems, but people were asked to specify it they were male or female.

Ms Matladi reported that although children’s birth would be registered, child deaths might not be. She noted that mobility between Western and Eastern Cape, particularly over weekends and holidays, could be problematic.

Mr Lehohla clarified that the main issue was whether the records contained integrity data, and the records were needed immediately. From 1998, following a suggestion, Departments of Health and Home Affairs, put procedures in place to register births wherever they occurred, which resulted in improvements.

Ms Matladi asked whether Stats SA used the Government Information System.

Ms Matladi pointed out that the Annual Report referred to Kokstad as Eastern Cape, and said it was actually in KwaZulu Natal.

Mr van Rooyen said that Stats SA had committed itself to dealing with identified delays, and the Committee must follow up on that commitment.

Mr van Rooyen asked about wasteful expenditure, calling for a breakdown of this.

Mr van Rooyen wanted a breakdown of the Stats SA services in provinces, to assist oversight.

Mr Lehohla said he would advise about the schools to which information was rolled out.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana noted that other departments could update the information on the system. She noted that Stats SA was the source of data used for planning, and asked how it monitored other departments, such as DHA, to see whether they were efficient and effective.

Mr Lehohla said there was a very clear need for coordinating collaboration by Stats SA.

Ms P Adams (ANC) asked why only 79% of the allocated amount was spent in Programme 3.

Ms Thobejane said the test for centres started in 2008, but the amounts were rolled over into the pilot study, and would be recovered in 2010.

Ms Adams noted the specific targets and actual outputs on the Life Circumstances, Service Delivery and Poverty data processing, yet delays were reported to the volume of data, and she was surprised that statisticians had targeted outcomes that could not be met.

Ms Adams noted whether the information on people with no formal education was submitted to the Department of Education.

Ms Thobejane replied that it was, and that Department participated fully in stakeholder meetings and provided many of the questions for the studies that Stats SA performed.

Ms Adams found it interesting that the Western Cape had more cell phones and land lines than Gauteng, who had more people

Ms Thobejane said the Western Cape covered a larger area, and there was more need of cellphones.

Ms Adams asked if the 43 interns  were absorbed into the system. She also asked whether Stats SA worked on promoting its very specialised work to the previously disadvantaged.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana asked where people were placed after training.

Ms Mokoena responded that many programmes were running, and ultimately Stats SA hoped to provide all trainees with jobs. The training plan determined how many and from where the interns were recruited, based on what managers needed, and what resources were available. Stats SA approached all universities and also advertised in newspapers, and from the pool of applicants would identify those who best suited their needs, either for bursaries or training in other countries. Mr Lehohla added that the 1.1% turnover might be too low, but the currently the entity was saving.

Dr Jairo Arrow, Deputy Director General: Methodology and Quality Control, Stats SA said that questions were asked about how many South Africans there were, and where they lived, which would be counted in 2011, but questions were seldom asked about where they worked or how they earned a living, or how many businesses provided work. There should be better coordination between various committees. Departments were still apparently working in isolation from each other. Last year, Stats SA said that the numbers of businesses being registered by CIPRO indicated systems that were running in cycles, and that a common understanding needed to be gained of cause and effect. It was vital to know how many businesses there were, yet this information was not available last year or this, and if not known, the lack of understanding would continue as to what was driving the economy, what the tax potential was, and how it affected priorities and development goals such as the National Health Insurance. He urged that there had to be more movement on assessing this, and said that Stats SA would be presenting some proposals to the ministers.

Millennium Development Goals (MDG): Stats SA briefing
Mr Lehohla reminded the Committee that in 2000 the UN General Assembly set, and 189 countries committed themselves to achieving, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). A National Coordination Committee was established in South Africa to deal with the policy and governance of the MDGs. Seven sectoral groups were established to enhance the goals of the MDGs, and domestic indicators were established through national and provincial workshops.  He emphasised that civil society organisations were invited to participate in reporting.

Eight key MDGs were important for the development of South Africa. These were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equity and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. These were all named as South African priorities and were encapsulated in the Stats SA report.

Mr Lehohla noted that there had been a decline in the proportion of the population that lived below the poverty line, but poverty was still a severe challenge in South Africa. There was a gap between relative poverty and extreme poverty, and the measure of inequality remained high. There was also an increase in access to free basic services. The employment rate remained static.

In terms of universal primary education, he informed the Committee that the adjusted net enrolment for females had increased from 97.0% in 2002 to 98.8% in 2009. The functional literacy rate of 15 to 24 year olds increased from 88% in 2002 to 91% in 2009. The completion rate of primary education of the 18 year olds had risen from 89.6% in 2002 to 93.8% in 2009. He noted that the policy initiatives of the South African government of no fee schools, free transport and feeding schemes in selected schools had benefited poor learners.

In relation to gender equality and the empowerment of women, he reported that there were more girls than boys in both secondary and tertiary education. The share of non-agricultural wage employment for women remained below half. He also noted that the proportion of seats held by women in the National Parliament increased from 25% in 1994 to 44% in 2009.

With regard to the reduced child mortality, he informed the Committee that the infant mortality rate had remained stable, at 53 deaths in every 1000 live births, since 2007. He said that the under-five mortality rate had risen from 59 in 1998, to 104 in 2007, per 1000 live births. He also explained that the percentages of one-year old children immunised against measles had risen from 68.5% in 2001 to 98.3% in 2009. Life expectancy years from birth had dropped.

The rate of maternal mortality was high and was increasing. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel had increased from 76.6%, (about 684 766) in 2001 to 94.35%, (about 935 473) in 2009. The use of modern contraceptive methods by sexually active women had increased from 61.2% in 1998 to 64% in 2003. Antenatal care coverage had also risen from 76.6% in 2001 to 100% in 2009.

Goal number 6 concentrated at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The spread of HIV prevalence in South Africa may have been stabilised, amongst persons over 2 years old. There had been a marked increase in all provinces in the numbers of HIV-positive people who had access to Antiretrovirals (ART), from 13.9% in  2005, to 41.6% in 2009. In 2006, 17% of men had been tested for HIV, but the testing figure rose to 31.8% in 2009, whilst 38% of women were tested in 2006, which rose to 71.2% in 2009. The death rates associated with TB rose, from 168 per 100 000 population in 2004, to 181 per 100 000 people in 2007.  

Mr Lehohla reported on the goal to ensure environmental stability. The number of species threatened with extinction had increased from 676 in 1990 to 2 458 in 2010. Carbon dioxide emissions had increased from 358 930 gigagrams in 1994, to 433 527 gigagrams in 2007. The proportion of the population who lived in slums had remained static. The targets for the proportion of the population now using drinking water from an improved drinking source had been achieved.

Mr Lehohla looked at developing global partnerships for development, and stressed that the GDP per capita had increased to R49 134 in 2009, whilst foreign direct investment (FDI) had dropped, from 8.4% of GDP in 2001 to 1.4% of GDP in 2009. Gross expenditure for Research and Development (R&D) had risen to just over 0.9% of GDP  in 2007. He also noted that there were 86 cellular subscribers per 100 population in 2007, compared to 18.5 per 100 population in 2001.  

Mr Lehohla then looked at matters falling outside the MDGs. He noted that the numbers of those living on US$1 per day had dropped, but South Africa, being classified as a middle income country, should really be tested against those living on $2 a day. He also stressed that the MDG realisations should be tested against lower level criteria, such as geographic areas (rural or urban) and gender. He emphasised that real quality of services rendered was masked by the progress on the MDGs. For instance, although there was in theory improved antenatal care coverage and a higher number of births attended to by skilled health personnel, maternal and child mortality continued to rise. Although South Africa appeared to have achieved universal primary education, the quality of education remained a serious concern. He further illustrated that HIV testing was mostly undertaken by women, whilst very few men were being tested.

Mr Lehohla reported that in its report to the UN, South Africa committed itself in pursuing the MDG goals, and it also raised concerns about whether developing nations could meet these goals, calling upon the developed nations to lend support.

South Africa needed to have an increase in domestic indicators. He stressed that there was a need to disaggregate MDG data, and other data, for international reporting and policy making, distinguishing gender, rural and urban, age and province. The 2010 MDG process needed to be institutionalised and should lead strategy development to address weaknesses in civil registration. He urged that it was vital to partner with civil society as this provided formidable resources and delivery potential for government.

Mr Lehohla stated that social policy progressively contributed to achieving a range of MDGs. The sustainability of employment, education, skills development and service delivery needs should be addressed. He stressed that it was important to implement the Cabinet decision that was taken on 15 September 2010, and use the evidence as a basis for decision-making. Census 2011 would give Stats SA a platform to disaggregate MDGs to municipal level.

Mr Z Luyenge (ANC) asked about the legitimacy of the statistics, and whether they could lead to any court challenges.

Mr Luyenge asked what percentage of people were living beyond their life expectancy.

Mr Luyenge asked what had assisted Stats SA over the last few years to improve its reporting.

Mr B Manamela (ANC) said that the MGDs were, in themselves, a compromise. He asked whether there was a way in which Stats SA could measure domestic private sector investment. He noted that Mr Lehohla had been very diplomatic when speaking of unemployment figures, since unemployment remained relatively high.

Mr Manamela noted that the statistics since they were nationally-based, but did not appear to impact on the provinces and municipalities, who were funded on the basis of outdated statistics.

Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) needed clarity on the decline in poverty, saying that she would have thought a decline in poverty and an increase in equality were mutually exclusive.

Ms E Coleman (ANC) also needed clarity on the recommendations for action.

Ms Coleman asked for clarity on the Cabinet decision of 15 September.

Ms Coleman noted the increase in the functional literacy rate of 15-24 year olds, and what this translated to in reality. She further asked for an explanation of the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment, the women’s share of the non-agriculture wage employment, below 50%.

Ms Coleman asked for an explanation of the reduced child mortality rate, since it was stated in the report that the infant mortality rate had remained stable since 2007.

Ms Coleman also asked about the credibility of this report, and how had it been compiled, noting that there had historically been poor record-keeping in Government departments.

Ms F Hajaig (ANC) asked what percentages or figures were available to determine or indicate that the proportion of the population that was living below the poverty line had declined, as well as figures to substantiate the findings that the employment to population ratio had remained static.

Ms Hajaig pointed out that most rural families were headed by women, and asked about the rural women’s share of non-agricultural wages. She stressed that this report only spoke to female MPs, but was silent on how many women were decision makers in the private sector.

Ms Hajaig also raised concerns about the reduction in child mortality rates and maternal mortality rates. She asked what “skilled personnel” attending births indicated, and whether it would include midwives in traditional communities.

Ms Hajaig supported the idea of promoting partnerships with the private sector and civil society in order to realise the targets of the MGDs. She asked if the MDGs could be realised by 2015.

Ms S Kalyan (DA) was concerned that the report did not criticise the drop-out levels of young females from secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

Ms Kalyan was concerned that most of the goals were enumerated, yet the quality of service was not reported, and asked how that could be clarified in South Africa.

Ms Kalyan asked on what basis the findings on environmental stability were measured, noting that climate change was a severe threat to the environment.

Ms A Dlulani (ANC, Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus) asked whether this report was the same as the report presented in New York. She hoped that it would dwell on women’s issues. She also asked that Stats SA should work closely with all government committees, so they could talk with one voice at the UN General Assembly.

Mr Manamela agreed with this comment.

Mr Lehohla said that he would respond to questions covered by the report, but would leave aside, for the moment, those outside the report.

In relation to questions about the statistics and their credibility, he said that there were rules which governed the gathering of statistics, which had been adopted by the United Nations Commission on Statistics. All data reports had to be referred to the quality authority in South Africa so that the authenticity could be verified.

Dr Arrow explained that the methodology that was used in statistics gathering and reporting was a standard method that was followed in many developed countries, such as Canada. He stressed that there were specific requirements followed in order to produce statistics, which would determine whether or not they were reliable. The interim structure required a completed count in all areas that needed data gathering.

Mr Lehohla noted that Cabinet had put mechanisms for consulting in place, prior to the formulation of Stats SA’s report, which included consulting the Chairperson of the NCOP and Speaker of Parliament, and there was an exchange of notes prior to the presentation in New York.

Mr Lehohla noted that the findings on the proportion of the population living below the poverty line, a distinction was drawn between relative poverty and absolute poverty.

Dr Cassim said that there was perhaps a need for South Africa to review its policy, because in South Africa inequality was measured in terms of relative poverty rather than absolute poverty.
Dr Cassim said that domestic private and foreign direct investment was measured as a percentage of GDP, and was around 20%, whereas South Africa’s competitors achieved around 25% to 30%. He stressed that a challenge to the South African economy was how to grow the GDP portion of foreign direct investments, and would estimate this to be at only around 10%, depending on the type of private sector that was driving foreign investment. FDI was not important in terms of quantitative value but rather in terms of qualitative value. South Africa, as compared to Malaysia, for instance, had attracted more FDIs. Public investment was moving slowly and it was important that public investment also rally around private investment, to make it grow. In relation inequality he emphasised that there should be a policy review by government.
Ms Masiteng clarified that the MDGs measured development, and had to start at the level of outcomes. She agreed that there was an element of compromise, but mechanisms had to be developed in order to achieve the desired inputs and outputs. Unemployment had been reflected as static, when compared to the previous reports of 25%, and she agreed that this was high.

Ms Gloria Khumalo, Deputy Chairperson of Council for Statistics SA, clarified that  Stats SA was in consultation with the premiers of provinces, for the purposes of providing MDGs to provinces. Municipal MDGs would be given after the 2011 local elections.

Ms Khumalo explained that the Cabinet decision of 15 September said that Stats SA should strengthen its capacity for reporting, and conduct an effective and efficient data collection process, whilst continuing to work with civil society.

Ms Khumalo stressed that, although not covered in this report, Stats SA were dealing with this and the agenda on this would be released within the next two months.

Mr Maluleke stated Stats SA did actually deal with matters relating to provinces and municipalities, although this was not included in this report. At local level, Stats SA had strengthened the capacity of managers who dealt with data collection. Data was collected at district level, but in order to be useful, national data must be used for reports. The interactions between Stats SA and civil society were very helpful in identifying the challenges in data collection at provincial and local level, and would help to identify specific areas to be addressed in order to obtain data that was efficient and effective.

Ms Coleman said that she was satisfied with the analysis and the responses from the delegation and with measures put in place for monitoring since 2006.

Minister Trevor Manuel was pleased to hear the response from Members, particularly since this presentation was compiled at short notice. He emphasised that Stats SA could not work alone in the collection of data, and all Government departments needed to assist Stats SA in data gathering. Even at local government level, it was important for municipal managers to be able to capture the numbers of people who were, for instance, without electricity or water taps. This could be fed into reports by Stats SA. He urged Members to persuade departments of the value of data collection, and to note that it would go a long way to improving oversight. A society could flourish if it took data outputs and used them to engage in a policy debate, which was precisely the purpose of the MDGs. Members should take ownership of the MDGs in order to strengthen their oversight role, and for better policy formulation.

The Chairperson also emphasised that it was very important for members to familiarise themselves with the MDG Report, so that they could play a meaningful, efficient and effective oversight role in other committees. More resources should be allocated to data collection and processing so that government could better  respond to the needs highlighted in the MDG Report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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