Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 12 - Statistics SA
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 06 May 2015
No summary available.
EPC - OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Wednesday, 6 May 2015 Take: 33
START OF DAY
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE
WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 2015
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 17:18.
The House Chairperson Ms M G Boroto took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote 12
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 12 - Statistics SA:
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY (Mr J T Radebe): Hon House Chairperson and chairperson of the portfolio committee; hon members of the portfolio committees; members of this House, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela; members of the statistics council; ladies and gentlemen, I once again have the honour of tabling the Budget Vote of another important institution of our government, Statistics SA.
In last year’s Budget Vote debate, I invoked the words of our icon, the late President Mandela, in his letter from prison to the late Mama Adelaide Tambo, when he said, and I quote:
Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves plan every detail and allow interventions of fate only on our own terms. Preparing a master plan and applying it are two different things.
In the same month of July 2014, Cabinet approved our Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, which drew inspiration from the wise counsel of Madiba and sought to plan, in detail, what we will do over the next five years.
Since that Budget Vote the focus has shifted towards implementing our National Development Plan, NDP. Let me state the obvious: that simply having a plan, however detailed, is not enough. As the President of the United States of America, USA, Abraham Lincoln once said, and I quote
If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do and how to do it.
How do we know where we are? How do we know what progress we are making? By what means or measure will we know that we are on the right path towards our goals? How will we know what more or less should be done in the course of and for the cause of that vision?
In order to answer these very important questions, we need credible evidence. During the Budget Vote of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation yesterday, I indicated that our work will be greatly enhanced by the role of statistics, in general, and Statistics SA, in particular, as we implement our vision as set out in the National Development Plan.
Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, we have crafted progressive policies, but the challenges have been the measures by which all these plans could result in their intended goals. In this statistics and Statistics SA gives credence to our claim that ours is a scientific and reliable developmental programme.
As we have indicated before, the NDP is our comprehensive development roadmap on which we have consulted widely with all sectors of South African society accepted and which was adopted by our freely elected representatives and legislators in August 2012. It is our master plan through which significant progress will be made possible.
We have begun to address the second aspect of Madiba’s counsel and that is to apply our plan. The link between the Budget Vote that I tabled yesterday before this House and the one I present today and now, is that the work of planning, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of our national plan will be enhanced by the measurement tools developed and applied by Statistics SA.
Credible statistics will also help us to respond unequivocally to the following questions that the masses of our people are asking, having embraced the National Development Plan.
Have we consciously and comprehensively aligned our implementation programmes and projects to this master plan? Are we monitoring this plan continuously? Do we have the staying power to see our plan through? Are we picking up on critical lessons we have learnt in order to spur on our development agenda? Are we experts and masters of our terrain and our plan? Finally, are we using scientific facts to lead and manage this plan?
Answering these six questions honestly is important to ensure that our people continue to believe in our vision and in our plan. Yesterday we began to answer these questions and we outlined what we will do to monitor both the alignment of plans and, but more particularly, their implementation.
We do not take for granted that our society has demonstrated that they have confidence in this plan. Our job is to ensure that we do not disappoint them. Our thoughts, our actions, our communications and reporting must be coherent and consistent. For this, we need robust facts and statistics based on scientific methods. To signify the importance of this work we deliberately opted that we must have a dedicated conversation on the work of Statistic SA, as we do here today and now.
I wish to draw your attention to the key features of the work programme of Statistics SA. These are aimed at spurring our NDP on through the implementation of measurements. There are five of them and, in part, they elaborate on the questions and deliver some of the answers that we sorely need.
The first feature relates to the task of ensuring that there is a deliberate alignment in the results value chain. This is from inputs, outputs, outcome and the impact through the use of rigorous application of a statistical indicator framework.
The second feature is the community survey which will assist us in a comprehensive understanding of the state of delivery of services from 1996, when we had our first post-apartheid benchmark, namely Census 1996. Corollary to the second, the work programme focuses on the first dip-stick survey covering customer-satisfaction survey and this will be undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal.
The third feature is about the continued improvement of the economic statistics through enhanced co-ordination of national accounts under one authority and further implementation of international standards.
The fourth focuses on the closed out report on the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs and the adoption of the sustainable development goals, SDGs.
The fifth area I will discuss is on the legislative reform for faster, better and greater compliance with the implementation of the national statistical system. Finally, we note with satisfaction that Statistic SA will have a new home.
Hon members, President Zuma has asked the questions about where do South Africans live, where do they work and play? He has inaugurated the National Development Plan as an instrument through which we will not only know where our people live, work and play but also how well they live, work and play. This can be achieved when there is alignment.
Now, let me turn to actions directed at alignment of the results value chain. In order for us to exploit the possibility of significant progress, one of the immediate tasks is to ensure that we have consciously and comprehensively aligned our implementation programmes and projects to our master plan, the National Development Plan.
Through a process of refinement of indicators by which we monitor the plan, we shall be in a position to know the extent to which our master plan is comprehensive and how well it is aligned and implemented.
Furthermore, we need to test the need for the NDP against the Sustainable Development Goals and using the indicators of the NDP against those SDGs. To have this plan and to implement it are two different things, as we have said, unless you manage the plan through a disciplined comprehensive system of fact-based indicators.
By linking our plan to the incoming sustainable goals means that while our plan responds directly to the immediate concerns, it is also sufficient plan to accommodate those expectations which the global community has for the improvement of the lives of the whole of human kind.
As we implement through Operation Phakisa, the faster and better results approach, we need to be assured that the rafts of measurements at our disposal are robust enough. We shall stay the course, only when we use scientific methods and scientific statistics.
We are convinced that Statistics SA will continue to excel in providing this service and with the necessary approvals by this House and of the budget that we propose they will be able to sweat their assets in providing the South African public with the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation environment that they so deservedly need.
As I speak the Statistician-General and the Director-General in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation are hard at work on alignment of systems of planning through a robust indicator framework to be delivered for consideration by the July Cabinet lekgotla.
Regarding our reflection over the 20 years on our delivery record, Statistics SA will again be conducting a community survey, a second in the life of the organisation. This mammoth task, albeit smaller than the national population census that we have run every 10 years since 2001, is still big by any count. This second survey will be better, bigger, faster and also cheaper than that of 2007. This survey is poised to be in the field from the beginning of February 2016, to the end of March 2016.
It features the following properties: What makes it better? It is better in that it will be able to provide estimates of progress or lack thereof at the level of municipalities. This feature was quite difficult to achieve for smaller municipalities in the 2007 survey.
By using the mandates emanating from the Statistics Act and spatial development Act, some of the NDP indicators require information at the lowest levels of geography; and the implementation of statistical geography in the legislative reform will ensure that there is provision of data at the required levels. We do this by departing from the premise that the delivery points of our democratic system are at a local-government level. It will be bigger, faster, and cheaper.
What will make it bigger? It will be bigger in that it is five times the size of the previous 2007 effort and will reach out to 1,5 million households instead of the 300 000 in 2007. This sample size will enable South African society to get estimates of municipal performance at every municipality.
What will make it faster? It will be faster in that through the use of tablet technology, like the one I have here, the selection, the recruitment, the training and appointment of staff will be delivered electronically and the results of the interviews from households will be electronically transmitted to servers for processing.
The editing of responses for correctness will be done instantly at interviewing level, therefore eliminating the need for extensive editing which usually takes a long time. The results will be released by the end of June 2016, in what South Africa has become accustomed to — namely modern multiplatform and multimedia easy-to-use channels.
What will make this community survey cheaper? It will be cheaper in that it will be delivered at almost an equivalent of R300 million in 2007 terms; so it will be delivered at half the price of the 2007 survey, but it is five times that size.
The information will point out the progress, or lack thereof, in many areas of state action. It will answer the question of whether or not, and how fast, we are transforming our vision captured in the NDP into a firm commitment.
Upon launching the 1996 census results, President Nelson Mandela made the following statement which the Community Survey 2016 should answer, and I quote,
The results show a society which has enormous basic needs to be met, whether it be in terms of access to clean water, electricity, telephones or schooling. By measuring the extent of deprivation in October 1996, the results provide us with benchmarks against which our performance as government and nation should be measured year by year.
The implementation of Community Survey 2016, 20 years from the first census under democratic rule, will provide us with a 20-year perspective of what has been achieved and what more needs to be done.
It will also provide us with the information by means of which we will all know whether or not we are on the right path to successfully implementing our vision. What should be done more or what should be done less and what trade-offs provide the best outcome?
We look forward to these results in about 14 months from today. Team Statistics SA is ready to work hard and deliver to our country another excellent product which will make us understand ourselves better as a nation. We call on all South Africans to heed the call and to fully participate when that time comes.
As a corollary to the community survey, at the behest of the premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Statistics SA will be mounting a user-paid customer satisfaction survey in October this year, 2015. This will be reported before the end of this year. This edition of the series of statistics will also assist Statistics SA to refine its proof of concept of the 2016 community survey operation.
This further demonstrates how battle ready the organisation is and that it is gearing up for delivery. The survey will deliver to the war room of KwaZulu-Natal perspectives on the delivery of services from the side of the customer, the consumer, and how satisfied they are with these.
They will confirm whether services are being delivered and whether such services are in working order or not. Consumers will, as citizens, confirm whether the tap actually delivers water or whether there are critical disruptions. This survey of citizens on levels of approval or disapproval regarding the services at their disposal raises the quality of accountability and should better deliver the fruits of our democracy. It is democracy in action.
Sustained improvement and implementation of economic statistics depends on ensuring that systems of collation are optimised for sustained quality of the national accounts. In this regard, two years ago Statistics SA jointly with the SA Reserve bank entered into a programme of improving the compilation of the national accounts of our country.
To this end, these two institutions have agreed that it is desirable that the three sides of the national accounts are compiled under one roof. Progress in achieving this seamless integration of national accounts has been significant over the past two years.
By March 2016, the first expenditure side of the national account will be delivered by Statistics SA to complement the production and income sides of the gross domestic product, GDP. Over the past six months, users have been consulted on imminent changes. This stance will not only improve the national accounts, but will also foster the path towards ensuring that the import data on individual products is further improved and enhanced. This will enable and guide integration across data systems of the state.
Having implemented the most recent system of national accounts, Statistics SA will strive to further its implementation on systems of environmental economic accounts and associated frameworks this year. Through the integration of the environment and the economy, policy makers will be further equipped to make decisions that will ensure sustainable economic growth.
In the last 14 years, we have been seized with meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals. As we bid farewell to the MDGs in the remaining five months, we are pleased that they have embedded in the public consciousness the notion of the importance of measurement.
The extent to which the culture of measurement is manifest, however, leaves much to be desired globally and this begs the question of whether it is possible to realise significant progress or not. To this end we need to ensure that the gap between the NDP and implementation is minimised particularly with regard to adoption and implementation of sustainable development goals.
Statistics SA has already undertaken an exercise of mapping at least the goals and targets of the SDGs on our plan, namely the NDP, and there is good feed between the two. As time unfolds, it will also engage in the process of indicators. A continental programme on SDGs indicators is underway to produce these so that they meet the deadline of the African Union, AU, meeting of heads of state in South Africa in June 2015.
The indicators, after being considered by individual countries, will have to be retested to see whether they are coherent with the common Africa position which represented response of Africa to the SDGs. The alignment of indicators to goals and targets has seized the imagination of African statisticians. They have provided the strategy for harmonising statistics and to that end a number of important continental programmes have been successfully driven, amongst others the 2010 round of census, the civil registration and vital statistics and the international comparison programme Africa. What is crucial, currently, is for statisticians to embolden those programmes by costing them.
In addition, Brics countries are in the process of developing a social statistics indicator system. There is an emerging agreement at thematic level on the topics for social statistics, but the actual work on the development of indicators will start as soon as the necessary approval has been given. Through the National Strategy for Development of Statistics, NSDS, which is proposed in the legislative process, the NDP indicators will form part of the body of work that will be contained in that programme.
In terms of data revolution, one of the outcomes of the two-day workshop on NDP indicators and SDGs was that the data resources that will be needed to track the indicators to be the censuses, surveys, administrative records and big data.
Some of the services and the institutional arrangements and protocols aimed at improving the services of Statistics SA will be available to the relevant committees of Parliament for guidance and approvals.
As I have said, Statistics SA will be moving to a new home in Freedom Park. Over a period of time we will be seeing progress on that front.
With regard to the budget allocated to Statistics SA for this financial year is R2,24 billion, which is divided up as follows: Administration, R791 262 000; Economic Statistics, R214 445 000; Population and Social Statistics, R133 675 000; Methodology and Standards, R 66 286 000; Statistical Support and Informatics, R250 004 000; Statistical Collection and Outreach, R553 560 000; Survey Operations, R235 976 000.
Hon members, the National Development Plan under the stewardship of President Zuma is possible to implement with the use of credible data for input into our planning, monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes and the impacts that such a plan achieves in the lives of South African society.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that in order to “know where we are, and whither we are tending”, in order to “judge what to do, and how to do it” we need good statistics. I invite hon members to support this Budget Vote so that we can continue to perform this important function. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr D D VAN ROOYEN
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY (Mr J T Radebe)
Mr D D VAN ROOYEN: Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, colleagues and comrades and the Statistics SA team, we are rightfully so enjoined by our internationally acclaimed constitution to improve the quality of life of all our people.
To realise this noble constitutional injunction, our country adopted a robust plan in the form of the National Development Plan, NDP. Critical to the success of the NDP is the generation and usage of national statistics as an instrument of measuring the extent of progress, or otherwise, in achieving the plan’s set goals and targets.
It is through credible and reliable statistics that we are able to tell inter alia that just in a period of 11 years — that will be from 2002 to 2013 — we now know that access to piped water, mainly for the previously deprived majority of our people, has increased from 85% to 90%; sanitation services has improved from 62,3% to 77,9%; mains electricity supply, excluding illegal connections, has increased from 71,1% to 85,4%; and access to the internet has ballooned by 40,9%. All these gains ensure a decent life for our people.
We now know that those who were previously made to feel that they were less human, and denied the opportunity to own or rent a house, have increased their access to housing. By 2013, 55% of houses were fully owned, 12% partially owned and 22% rented.
This helps in the monitoring and evaluation of the Freedom Charter’s commitment that all people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and bring up their families in comfort and security.
Through statistics, we are able to tell that despite all the evidence of delivery by the ANC-led government, there is a spike of service delivery protests, and also an increase in vacant Reconstruction and Development Programme, RDP, houses.
As much as the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, is not contradicting the NDP, through statistics we are able to tell that the goals and targets in the NDP are very clear, but the methods and indicators to inform us as to progress made are woefully inadequate.
There’s a glaring mismatch between the Medium-Term Strategic Framework and the NDP indicators; this has the potential of undermining the NDP objectives and ultimately the realisation of our constitutional injunction. Underpinning the success of the NDP and the MTSF is the availability of credible statistical information, hence the increased need for official statistics.
Hon Minister, we welcome what you have just indicated that there will be a collaboration to develop indicators framework which we think will greatly assist to close this gap between the indicators of these two important initiatives.
Demand for official statistics is also driven by the global and national commitment to equitable and sustainable development. The increase in the demand for statistics is further accelerated by the fact that African heads of state passed the strategy for the harmonisation of statistics in Africa as well as the United Nations, UN, resolution on the report, A World that counts. The global and continental approaches urge countries to jack up their statistics-generation capacity.
This Budget Vote is introduced during the period of fiscal constraints and it accords, therefore, a limited opportunity for development of effective and efficient innovations. It calls for Statistics SA to do more with less. The budget presented to the House for approval allocates Statistics SA R2,25 billion for the 2015-16 financial year, which is a nominal increase of 0,12% from the previous financial year.
Albeit a small increase, it is important to note that the budgetary commitments made are not in any way going to compromise the commitment of Statistics SA in realising the following: ensuring that by 2030, our statistical information system fully responds to the information demands of the NDP; that the national statistical system is led by diverse and transformed professionals with the much-needed statistical capabilities; the usage of technology to drive an end-to-end robust statistical system; the establishment of statistics units within organs of state under the capable leadership of Statistician-General; and lastly, ensuring that by 2020, the statistics value chain is based on sound statistical quality principles in line with international standards.
As the ANC, we support this Budget Vote because it is unambiguous and very explicit on how it intends to strengthen the national statistics system. We support this Budget Vote because it provides for Statistics SA taking over the publication of the expenditure side of the gross domestic product, GDP, from the Reserve Bank, which will go a long way in ensuring convenience in generating and aligning the gross domestic product components.
With the first community survey conducted in 2007, we support this Budget Vote because it will enable Statistics SA to conduct the second community survey which will allow the country to know, amongst other things, what the living patterns of our people are.
It is a well-recorded fact that apartheid left us with a disastrous spatial legacy and we are still stuck with it. After 20 years of our hard-won democracy, our towns and cities are still divided and inefficient, imposing high living costs on our people, mainly blacks. As a country we should agree that the development of a national spatial framework and ongoing spatial management must be supported by a properly integrated system of national spatial data.
The prevalence of a plethora of spatial data initiatives by both public and private sectors undermines efforts to do away with fragment statistical and geographic environment, hence our vehement call to all and sundry to stop this practice and allow Statistics SA to be the driver.
We urge everyone, more especially the public sector, to work with Statistics SA in the generation and analysis of statistical information. Emphasis is placed on the public sector because we believe that this should begin at home.
We must lead by example, hence our support of the recommendation calling for statewide statistical reforms through a change in the current legislation. This will enhance the prospects of a legally binding statistical co-ordination process.
KwaZulu-Natal, hon Minister, should be commended for being so proactive by working with Statistics SA to prepare its customer satisfaction survey which will take place in October this year.
As the ANC, we support Budget Vote 12 because it provides for the development of an updated geospatial information frame which is extremely helpful for spatial analysis at ward level; this helps to inform spatial planning at municipal level and provide an opportunity for municipalities to map and monitor service delivery on the ground on an ongoing basis.
The pace of change and the importance of statistics in the 21st century are unheard of; we need a comprehensive and technologically astute response to the rising wave of demand for official statistics taking place within a highly integrated and complex global, continental and national environment.
As the ANC, we think that this Budget Vote accords the country an opportunity to realise this holistic approach, hence our support of Budget Vote 12. Ke a leboga Modulasetulo [Thank you, Chairperson.] [Applause.]
Dr D T GEORGE
Mr D D VAN ROOYEN
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, before I call on hon George, we are anticipating that load shedding may take place during the course of this debate. Should this occur please remain seated as the generators will come into operation.
Dr D T GEORGE: Chairperson, Statistics SA plays a vital role in our economy and has a number of important functions to perform. These functions are both tangible and intangible. They are also quantitative and qualitative. Statistics SA is strongly symbolic of what we need to achieve in South Africa. We need to examine and understand our past, learn its valuable lessons to improve on the present and focus on future development.
The crucial intangible role of Statistics SA is to ensure that it transmit credible economic data to South Africans who participate in our local economy every day and to fund participants who can choose to invest and trade in a vast array of competitor economies across the world.
Statistics SA does not formulate economic policy, but it does measure the impact of policy and will identify the patterns emerging from the numbers it generates. To be effective, Statistics SA need to input its findings into appropriate policy development while the data is fresh and relevant. This will enhance the credibility and demonstrate the value that Statistics SA can add to our developing economy.
This is clearly not happening especially if you consider rising unemployment amongst our youth, in particular, and the rising anger amongst South Africans who feel marginalised by failed government policies and have found a convenient and defenceless scapegoat, as manifested in recent xenophobic attacks against foreign migrants to South Africa.
Statistics SA could inform government of the pace of change in terms of black ownership of our economy instead of a battle having to be waged between the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, JSE, that places ownership between 23% and the National Empowerment Forum, NEF, which claims it is 3%. President Zuma prefers the NEF’s numbers, but should rather prefer those of Statistics SA and they should be mandated to collect them.
The tangible work of Statistics SA is to support participants to make sense of the economic world in which they operate. Statistics SA gives life to the numbers that populate the economic indicators which direct economic activity every day. Its five-year strategic plan from 2015-16 to 2019-20, states that its main focus is to build a durable statistical machinery for the National Development Plan, NDP, that aims at defeating the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Statistics SA can qualitatively study the root cause of the numbers that it collects. Poverty will never be defeated when corruption and incompetency leaks over R30 billion from the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.
Unemployment will never be defeated when economic policy increasing places an incapable state at the centre of our economy and equality will never be defeated when our education system doesn’t generate the quality outcomes that our people desperately need.
In its strategic plan, Statistics SA sets out its strategic outcomes to be an informed nation, trusted statistics, partnerships in statistics, a capable organisation and statistical leadership.
An informed nation is crucial now that government’s economic policy failures have brought our economy to its knees. Increasing numbers of people are at the point where they believe that our economy is a zero sum game. In a low-growth environment, one person’s growth is another person’s loss and that drives violent reactions against migrants who are perceived to gain at the expense of locals.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Statistics SA could play a role in ensuring that the numbers properly reflect the economic growth that actually results from migrants adding value to our economic.
More in-depth demographic and social analysis is required to understand and monitor migration patterns. Our ancestors have been migrating for millions of years and this phenomenon is not going to stop now, no matter how many obstacles are placed in its way.
Quite simply: People move around. Sometimes it’s a trickle, and sometimes it’s a flood. We need to measure it, monitor it and ensure that policies show the appropriate reality.
Statistics SA has expressed its concern over the reliability of secondary data sources from government and has pointed to the declining trust and confidence in public institutions and weak planning across the three spheres of government.
Given that Statistics SA must co-ordinate statistical planning, production and reporting amongst organs of state, interdepartmental collaboration to improve the quality of statistics available for policy-making decisions is a welcome step in the right direction.
More comprehensive statistics on safety, education and health can enrich the debate on how to achieve the most benefit from the application of limited resources.
What progress is there on the implementation of the South African National Statistics System? Management theory argues that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. Statistics SA also needs to consider several unanswered questions about our economy.
It is essential for policy-making to ask questions such as how big is the informal sector; how much illicit trading is happening in our economy; are reports on illicit financial flows from our economy correct; how big is the mismatch between earned and declared income in our economy? With those, Statistics SA still much work to do, but it is improving over time.
Statistics SA enriches the economic debate and improves efficiency through the provision of quality information. It is a valuable national asset that serves us well in our quest to improve the lives of all people in South Africa and its efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Ms N V NQWENISO
Dr D T GEORGE
Ms N V NQWENISO: Chairperson, the EFF rejects this budget precisely because it fails to prioritise and deal with the immediate skills challenges and other challenges that have been raised before by this House.
The R2,25 billion budget allocated to this organisation is not channeled to critical areas of its mandate and responsibilities. Despite the fact that 60% of the budget goes to staff compensation, the department still has a vacancy rate of 9,8%. There is no clear and radical plan on how and when these vacancies will be filled.
What is of even greater concern is the drastic increase of 53,7% in expenditure on consultants over the medium term instead of building internal capacity.
Most of the administration programme budget — about 53% — has been channeled to office accommodation, which is completely unacceptable.
Government should be able to own property and not spend excessive amounts of money on rentals or enter into expensive partnerships, and at the end of the day will not own the property, but will continue to pay rent.
This money could assist with addressing some of the department’s critical areas of service delivery. Excessive money that is being spent on office accommodation could be used to train and attract more qualified statisticians for the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation. Part of this money could be used to beef up statistical collection and outreach as well as survey operations to ensure viability of the organisation.
While we know that one of the key focus areas of the department has been to establish the SA National Statistics Systems, SANSS, over the last five years, this system has been inadequate in meeting demands from other organs of state which seek partnership in relation to improvement of collection systems.
This system should be able to ensure that organs of state produce data that is of a certifiable standard of quality and informs policy planning and decision making, but this is currently not the case.
The statistics could then be used by policy makers to influence policy decisions in the country which will subsequently impact positively on the lives of our people. The fact that information provided by Statistics SA is not being used effectively by public institutions including Statistics SA itself, is unacceptable, precisely because, in simpler terms, it means that there is no value for the money that government puts in.
It is also unacceptable that Statistics SA does not have localised statistics, to the extent that when you need the statistics for a small rural area regarding the levels of poverty or unemployment, for example, in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape or KwaZulu-Natal, you will not be able to source it.
It is our view that statistical information should be available at all levels of society, but it is currently not the case. The EFF rejects the budget. Thank you.
Mr N SINGH
Ms N V NQWENISO
Mr N SINGH: Thank you, Chairperson, hon members, hon Minister and Deputy Minister. My time starts now — it was a long walk from there to here.
Quite coincidentally, I was talking to my colleague the hon Sithole earlier on, when the Minister took out his tablet and read his presentation to us. I just said to myself there is one variable in that; I hope he has had it charged because if there’s load shedding he will be in trouble. There will be nothing to read. Then load shedding was announced not so long after that. [Laughter.]
In today’s constrained political, geographic and socioeconomic environment it is of the outmost necessity that we have an unbiased statistical service, whose research staff continually strive for perfection in the measurement and extrapolation of key indicators that will assist and inform the decision-making process in this country.
Statistics SA is, therefore, a tool whose usefulness or harmfulness to the country is solely dependent upon the accuracy of the information it produces. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that they get it right as policy decisions are formed around their figures and extrapolations.
The leading of the development and co-ordination of statistical production is under the guidance and leadership of a very, very capable Statistician General, whom I think is the longest serving public servant since 1994, at that level and whose efforts are to date a credit to this department.
Evidence-based policy making remains key to this country’s success. However, what is also key is the way in which the statistics are used.
At this juncture, it would be remiss of me not to commend the Statistician General and all his staff, through the Minister and the department, for the excellent standard of work not only here in South Africa, but also on the continent.
I was deeply impressed last week when the Statistician General made a presentation on how one can use information that is gathered around South Africa to help with the identification of niche products and services that could be exchanged between different countries in Africa. I think that was great.
The last census that was conducted in 2011 was a great success. The big census! We hope that planning has started for the 2021 census, but we also gathered that the community survey is going to be the bridge between these two pieces of work.
An important aspect of any well-functioning department, especially this department here and the Statistician General’s Office, is staff retention.
The hon member of the EFF mentioned the use of consultants. The Statistician General’s office and Statistics SA is here to stay. They need to ensure that we are able not only to attract but also to keep capable staff within our reach.
We also know that the kind of salaries that are paid are sometimes not commensurate with what the private sector pays. I think we need to go out of our way to ensure that we retain these highly trained people.
An informed nation is a successful nation. In this regard we support the department’s planned expansion of the statistical information base and the development of cutting edge innovation in statistical products, as well as the revolutionising of current data systems.
I also appreciate the fact that the hon Minister spoke about legislative reforms. It is important, hon Minister, that there are certain norms and standards that apply to all bodies that gather and extrapolate statistical information and give us their results. I say this because sometimes you find that there are some of these organisations out there — private sector organisations — that have a different type of interpretation and a different way of analysing and collecting the evidence. I think we need to have norms and standards in this regard.
The other issue is: To what extent are municipalities using this information that Statistics SA collects to enable them to inform their Integrated Development Plans, IDPs, and other development issues in their areas? I think this is something that municipalities need to be brought on board. We will support this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Ms D CARTER
Mr N SINGH
Ms D CARTER: Chairperson, the Statistics Act, Act 6 of 1999, mandates the department to use the statistics to assist organs of state, businesses, other organisations and the public in planning, monitoring and in decision-making.
Mainly, and unfortunately, the public comprises ordinary people who need statistics to motivate their case, but they have no idea how to understand them or use them.
Service-delivery grievances are many. Joblessness affects 4 out of every 10 adults in South Africa. Obesity and diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are rising to dangerous levels. Mining, agriculture and the industrial sector are shedding jobs.
How many lives can be saved if we have up-to-date statistics, for example, on types of cancers — and not only on types but also the different stages, the successes and the unfortunate event where there are no successes?
The same applies to statistics on road accidents. I feel that it is important to have that. Many lives can be saved if the statistics show not only people who passed away on road accidents, but actually go to an extent where you have codes blue and red statistics for injuries as well. That can also assist for example the Department of Transport. I can go on with this matter; the point is that South Africans who mostly need to engage with statistics are excluded because of the complexity that is involved.
Councillors and public representative, likewise, seldom if ever use statistics to gauge the nation’s health across a full spectrum of activities. If they don’t use statistics, they will make decisions without understanding.
Another example is that personal taxes have been rising imperceptibly but consistently as a percentage of taxes paid. The escalation of national debt from 28% of the gross domestic product, GDP, when the administration took over, to 46% at present is startling. However, we in this House express no alarm at that.
It is clear that we need what in common parlance is termed, with no disrespect to anyone, a Statistics for Dummies. That will become even more necessary as Statistics SA will conduct a community survey in 2016-17 over the medium term.
The survey will provide official statistics at municipal level. For such statistics to enhance planning, monitoring and evaluation at that level, we will need to ascertain whether councillors in general will feel qualified to engage with those statistics. If there are many takers, the exercise will yield results.
Serious consideration should be given to enable households actually to submit these statistics electronically instead of having to wait for a fieldworker to visit you at home. We are living in a day and age where every household — or if not every, almost every household — does have a cell phone. It is possible. You can use the base line actually, through the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, voters roll.
For many years this honourable House has heard about the need for co-ordination and we all agree with that. Everyone agrees with that. Even so, statistical reform has yet to take place. We must ask the question: Why is statistical co-ordination really not occurring?
Is this a matter of priority? Should statistical agencies work in a co-ordinated manner in isolated ways? We have an extraordinarily large but highly apathetic government. Unfortunately, at this stage I must say government is firing on two pistons.
Therefore, true to character, the department has still to find platforms to digitalise data collection. It is very exciting to hear that we are looking at actually getting to the digital side. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Ms D G MAHLANGU
Ms D CARTER
Ms D G MAHLANGU: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister Radebe, Deputy Minister Manamela, hon members, the team from Stats SA led by Pali Lehohla, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Primarily, the increase in demand for data arises from the commitment of the ANC-led government for evidence-based policy making.
The establishment of the Ministries in the office of the President for both Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and National Planning signaled the emphasis of government on the development policies and programmes that are rooted in measuring development outcomes, and hence provide data and information that will be the foundation of knowledge.
The central objective and mission of the ANC-led government’s developmental agenda outlined in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, is to set the country on a higher and sustainable trajectory of economic growth by the end of the mandate period of the current government, that is, 2019.
This is to be accompanied by an expanded and more diversified economic base with unemployment, poverty and income inequality being reduced. Economic growth and development, including the creation of decent work and investment in quality education and skills development, are the centre for the ANC-led government’s programme.
In this context, the thrust of Statistics SA Strategic Plan is based on the priorities set out in the MTSF. Our people have the right to quantitative information that will allow them to make informed choices.
Policy developers and decision makers across our society require statistical data to establish socioeconomic developmental priorities, benchmarks and, of course, to monitor their successes and failures in implementing new programmes and policies.
Statistical information is used to guide planning for resource allocation and for monitoring and evaluation of new initiatives and approaches. The democratisation of statistical practice has led to increasing calls for statistics to become the basis for rational and empirically-founded decision making.
The ANC-led government, in measuring the performance of national priorities, has adopted an approach to delivery that focus on outcomes. From the developmental focus of the MTSF the government has derived 12 clear, measurable outcomes together with enhanced planning and monitoring and evaluation capacity.
All of these aim to give greater impetus to development and service delivery improvement, as well as to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the South Africans as a whole. Statistics SA plays a critical role in measuring the extent to which the quality of the lives of South Africans has improved.
The central objective and mission of the ANC-led governmental developmental agenda is to set the country on a higher and suitable trajectory of the economic growth including the creation of decent work and investment in quality education and skills development.
In this context, the thrust of Statistics SA’s strategic planning is based on the priorities set in the MTSF. The manner in which national and international dynamics may influence the achievement of these priorities and the mechanisms required to plan, measure, monitor and evaluate implementation and progress in this priority areas.
An informed developmental state strengthens democracy and accountability. In this regard, policy development and decision-making will be the key indicators of an informed developmental state.
The introduction of a democratic government in 1994, hon Chair, created new statistical imperatives for South Africa. Policy developers and decision makers across society required statistical data to establish socioeconomic developmental priorities and benchmarks and to monitor their successes and failures in implementing new programmes and policies.
Statistical information was increasingly used to guide planning and resource allocation for monitoring and evaluation of new initiatives and approaches. The increase in demand for data arises from the commitment of government for evidence-based policy-making.
In debating the current Budget for Statistics SA one should acknowledge the fact that the main cost driver in the budget of an organisation is field work done during surveys or data-collection processes.
It was for this reason that Stats SA came up with an integrated fieldwork strategy that would ensure effective and efficient fieldwork operations. The integrated approach is intended to ensure improved, efficient and effective fieldwork.
This is to be achieved through the cost-effective use of resources, decentralising survey operations to provincial and district offices as well as streamlining and optimising logistical publicity and administrative processes. I hope this point will address the concerns of the EFF member.
In line with the quality improvement programme, the organisation has updated the consumer price index, CPI, to reflect more accurately the price changes that impact on households. These improvements are important to institutions such as the SA Reserve Bank, SARB, which will then have accurate information at its disposal for the purposes of settling interest rates amongst others.
The improved timelines to release the CPI, which has been brought forward within one week, is another major milestone achieved through the quality improvement programme. This simply means that the CPI is now released in three weeks as opposed to the normal four weeks as it used to.
Furthermore, the producer price index, PPI, has been completely overhauled in order to be aligned with international best practices. In addition, there have been an additional five PPIs — new suits — to replace the previous single index to allow analysts to enhance the knowledge and understanding of how prices are transmitting through the economy from inputs to consumption stage.
South Africa forms part of the wider global and continental world. It is important to highlight the fact Statistics SA has forged partnership with statistics institutions which are part of the African Union Commission, AUC; the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa, Uneca; the African Development Bank, ADB; as well as the regional communities.
Statistics SA has also played a leading in initiatives such as the Africa Symposia on Statistical Development, ASSD; the Statistical Commission for Africa; the Africa statistical committee and the Africa committee on statistical harmonisation.
One of the successes on the continent has been the mobilisation of all African countries to undertake population censuses in the 2010 Population and Housing Census.
The strategic focus in Africa is on reforming civil registration and vital statistics. Development and growth on the continent can only be assessed if there is evidence to measure changes, and this should be supported by appropriate and trustworthy statistics based on the same quality standards.
To build international partnerships therefore becomes vital to ensure that there is coherence as well as adherence to international best practices and standards, as this will increase the supply and quality of statistics.
In conclusion, the role of statistics, and indeed, that of statisticians in national development is very, very critical.
Statistics SA produces important statistical data which provides the necessary information to enhance accountability, monitoring and evaluation as well as the assessment of public sector policies informed by the ANC manifesto. It informs development indicators to reflect the overall government performance against specifically defined outcome.
Sihlalo, namalungu ahloniphekileko, siyi-ANC siyasisekela iSabelomali i-Vowudu Ye-12 ye-Statistics SA. Begodu sinethemba bona nalabo abazakulandela ngemva kwethu nabo bazasisekela. Kilabo abasisekelako siyathokoza. Akuzumsiza umuntu bona kuthi lokha nasethula iSabelamali seVowudu ye-12 esizomsiza emthlagweni wakhe, kodwana kube yena ngohlezi ekhoneni ohlalele ukurhidla isililo ahlabe nomkhosi. Sithi-ke thina uZimu anitjhudubaze. Asazi-ke kilabo abahlezi emakhoneni bona bazasithola nasikuphi. Ngiyathokoza. [Iwahlo.]
Mr D C ROSS
Ms D G MAHLANGU
Mr D C ROSS: Chairperson, I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate.
In his presentation today, the Minister focused on the implementation of the National Development Plan, NDP, which, of course, is much needed, and we appreciate that focus.
The Minister also asked some very valid questions with regard to the goals and the progress made with this implementation, and whether there was credible evidence with regard to the implementation of the National Development Plan.
We believe that these are important issues and we believe they need to be unpacked. We note that Statistics SA plays a central role in the implementation of the National Development Plan. It serves to provide credible and reliable statistics, which inform us about socioeconomic dynamics for evidence-based decisions. It is those evidence-based decisions that are important.
In April 2014, I was very encouraged by an analysis by Statistics SA indicating that the country has made significant progress in reducing grinding poverty and hunger through a combination of social grants and improved incomes, which, of course, we welcomed.
I must, nonetheless, say I was disappointed - not by the presentation of the Statistician-General, which was excellent — but because in the recent presentation to the committee, it was indicated that despite the evidence of delivery, the methods and indicators to inform progress are inadequate.
What is needed is an evidence framework and we are looking forward to seeing that the Statistician-General and Statistics SA conclude on the evidence framework, which should be based on the National Development Plan.
The important correlation and alignment of NDP indicators and Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, indicators were further highlighted, noting – and this is very important – a mismatch with the MTEF indicators. The telling story of Statistics SA, therefore, is on the economy and on employment.
Now, with regard to the economy and employment – and this was in the presentation this year – there are 22 National Development Plan indicators whilst there are only nine Medium-Term Expenditure Framework indicators. This tells the story of a government with fundamental problems in adopting and implementing its own National Development Plan.
The Statistician-General also indicated to us that it is important to steer away from the bad patches of history and to enable the National Development Plan to be the driver of change. Of course, that is the correct approach, but, it should be noted that the critical changes require legislation and management decisions.
With regard to the required legislation and management decisions that could influence change, there are stumbling blocks to achieving the desired strategic outcomes in the growth of the economy, such as labour and infrastructure development.
The central message should be how to enable the government to think ahead of what needs to change and how we deliver that mandate. We thus support the immediate way forward to locate the National Development Plan as the driver of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, and furthermore, to track National Development Plan indicators together with strategic development goals.
The Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, is not in contradiction with the National Development Plan, as Statistics SA indicated in their presentation to us. However, the methods and the indicators to inform progress are woefully inadequate. The Finance Portfolio Committee echoes this sentiment and agrees that, over time, the gap in the indicators needs to be narrowed.
The committee recommended that Statistics SA raised this with the Minister in the Presidency. That was, indeed, done and we thank the committee for this initiative.
Having said the above, we know the biggest challenge our country faces is not better statistical reporting, but government’s lack of will to actually implement the National Development Plan in its entirety. We have had the National Development Plan for a couple of years now and we have seen very little progress in terms of implementation.
The reality is that the litany of opposing economic policies within the national government has stopped economic growth dead in its tracks. We have seen that growth has got stuck at 2%, and even less than that, with huge stumbling blocks with regard to electricity supply and load shedding — perhaps even today.
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are suffocated before being given a chance to flourish; and if there is load shedding in those businesses, of course, the profit margins dwindle and, of course, employment is also reduced.
Investors remain hesitant to invest capital within our borders as government ponders about what its economic policy really is, and this affects every South African.
Minister Nene says the National Development Plan, which champions a market-driven economy, is government’s official policy. Yet, Minister Davies and Minister Patel implement the Industrial Policy Action Plan, Ipap, and National Growth Plan, NGP, which clearly place the state at the centre of economic development. That needs to change.
This is what the National Development Plan would like to change and that needs to be done. Statistics SA can only go so far, however. It cannot implement the National Development Plan. That is government’s role. Statistics SA can only deliver the methods and indicators that inform the fact that progress is inadequate.
Now what does it show; what is the credible evidence? It shows that government is failing the unemployed – a staggering 36,1% of the population, as my colleague, Ian, would know. It shows that the ANC-led government is failing the youth as two out of every three unemployed South Africans are young people; and that since 2009, unemployment has also remained largely unchanged and is well above 30%.
That is not a good reality. Those are not the good statistical figures that we need to know.
Statistics SA continues to tell us these unfortunate stories, yet government continues along its failed path of different ideologies.
The NDP as a driver of growth is a market-based economy. It is not positioning the state at the centre of our economy. Until that changes, we will have the unfortunate situation where Statistics SA will continue to produce these shocking statistics in terms of unemployment, in terms of growth, and in terms of debt-to-GDP ratios. This is unacceptable in the country and also unacceptable in terms of international standards, as the unemployed will be suffering the most in this regard.
We thank you for the presentation by the Statistician-General. I think it’s a step in the right direction, and we agree that the National Development Plan should be implemented with vigour and as soon as possible. I thank you. [Applause.]
Dr M B KHOZA
Mr D C ROSS
Dr M B KHOZA: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister in the Presidency, hon Deputy Minister, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, in supporting this budget, I think it is important for everyone to know that we do so from an informed point of view.
The reason why we are saying so is because, regrettably, we have observed that the EFF rejects the budget as they try hard to be noticed.
Unfortunately their chronic inexperience of governance and complex entity management is not on their side, and we forgive them for that. We are a forgiving organisation. We believe in reconciliation, and we allow them to grow with time. [Applause.]
It is also important hon Chairperson that one needs to formulate ones view from an informed position. It is a matter of fact that the EFF does not attend the Standing Committee on Finance on a regular basis, and as a result they were not there when the statistician-General presented their Annual Performance Plan, APP. Had they attended, they would have heard the Statistician-General outlining how they were going to deliver the 2015-16 work programme, and one of their strategic priorities for 2015-16 is to drive legislative reforms and implement statistical geography to transform the national development information landscape.
I am hoping that the EFF is listening because am trying to give them a workshop. And I also want to them to ... [Interjections] I am glad that ...
... mkhaya wena ulalele ngoba kusho ukuthi uzofunda.
Ms M S KHAWULA: Hon member!
Dr M B KHOZA: You know, it’s also important to note that they even stated very clearly ...
Nksz M S KHAWULA: Yebo, ngiyabonga. Asihloniphaneni.
ILUNGU ELIHLONIPHEKILE: Yima ngezinyawo.
Dr M B KHOZA: Okay.
Nksz M S KHAWULA: Asihloniphaneni. Ngicela ungakhulumi ngoba awuhlangani naleyo nto! Uyezwa? Ngiyakutshela ngicela uthule wena! Ngithi ngicela uthule wena! Ngithi ngicela uthule wena!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon member will you please respect the House.
Nksz M S KHAWULA: Lalela-ke kukhona into engifuna ukukutshela yona. Ngiyaxolisa Sihlalo.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon member, are you rising on a point of order?
Ms M S KHAWULA: No!
Bengifuna ukusho ukuthi ngale ngaphesheya bayadelela.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): No, hon member. We are not taking opinions. I can only allow you to speak on a point of order.
Nksz M S KHAWULA: Yebo, kodwa bese ngisholo ukuthi ubakhuze-ke. [Ubuwelewele.] Bakhuze!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Order, hon members! Hon member Khoza, you may proceed.
Dr M B KHOZA: Hon Chair, I think at some stage we ought to remind hon Khawula that she is now a Member of Parliament, MP, and she can’t behave like this.
Hon Chair, I think it’s going to be very important for the EFF to also take notes that the Statistics SA work programme for the 2015-16 financial year is to create a state-wide statistics service. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon member from the EFF, order!
Ms M S KHAWULA: She is starting the xenophobia.
UDOKOTELA M B KHOZA: Hhayi wena! [Uhleko.]
Ms N V NQWENISO: On a point of order, Chair.
Dr M B KHOZA: Okay.
Ms N V NQWENISO: Chairperson!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon member, are you standing on a point of order?
Nksz N V NQWENISO: Yebo. Ngiphakama ngephuzu lokukhalima. Uma ngabe asizukuhloniphana lapha eNdlini. Okokuqala ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): No hon member, rise on a point of order.
Ms N V NQWENISO: I am not going to allow members of the ANC to always intimidate us. I am not going to allow that! These people are sitting here pointing fingers at us, and you want us to shut up. We are not going to do that. That is not going to happen!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Order, hon member!
Ms N V NQWENISO: We are not here to be insulted, and we are not here on anybody’s business.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): If you are rising to express your opinion, it is not a point of order. Hon members, may we please be orderly and maintain the ... [Laughter.] Hon members it is important that we maintain the decorum of the House. Shall we now allow the hon member Khoza to proceed with the debate?
Nksz M S KHAWULA: Kungenjalo-ke biza unogada abakhiphele ngaphandle. [Uhleko.]
Dr M B KHOZA: Hon Chair, as I was saying, I think it’s going to be important for the members to note what was presented to us because to me, and also to the ANC, part of the reason why we are supporting this Budget Vote is because we are convinced by the systematic and process approach of the Statistics SA that they are actually going to be able to improve on all the areas that we had raised as a concern during our engagement with them in the committee.
I also want to say that one of the things which they had undertaken to do is to create a state-wide statistics service through professionalising training and deployment. They also said they are going to embrace data revolution in order to ease the methods of doing business.
They will do this by changing their capabilities of information collection, access analysis, use retrieval, and storage and archiving. There are quite a number of things that they raised, but because I know hon members are very tired, I just want to go straight to what I have to say.
Hon George, just a small thing - you know, I have said these things to you previously — I really get offended when you make the ANC synonymous with corruption and incompetence and I want you to understand that corruption is not the policy of the ANC. I want you to understand that and I don’t think it’s debatable. I am just advising you. [Applause.]
Otherwise, most of the points that you are rising are the points that we also agree with you; in fact, we feel strongly that as far as hospitals, prisons, police stations and the courts are concerned, we need to strengthen their capacity for collecting accurate data and, as data banks, being able to feed into Statistics SA because we consider Statistics SA as the official central data bank.
We are saying, therefore, we also agree with you that they also need to up their game because it’s absolutely important that we need accurate statistics to prevent some of the challenges that we have in the country and for planning purposes.
Given the fact that this is May, Africa Month, allow me to honour some of the finest brains Africa ever produced who have contributed in the fields of mathematics, scientific investigation, and the importance of statistics in making evidence-based decisions.
Today I want to assert that an evidence-based decision-making process is not a phenomenon of Western civilisation. In fact, our own African continent’s philosopher, Ibn Khaldun, was a mathematician who was born in Tunisia in 1332, and died in Egypt in 1406.
If you go and look at his scholarly works, Muqaddimah, and if you go and read those works, I mean, even sociologists and everybody else now concur that he is indeed the father of modern scientific methods, sociology, economics, hypsography and finance. [Applause.]
He is not just the father of those fields, but I want to argue that he is also the father of the idea that there is a need for reliable statistics in creating and building an evidence-based society.
The ANC, even in its own organisational policies and its own gender policy, relies heavily on statistics. When the ANC took a decision that we are now going for a fifty-fifty policy, it was informed by the statistics that women make up more than half of the population. [Applause.] We don’t just wake up and dream and say we are now going to make a decision, we are informed by statistics.
Let me just help you: I just want to quote Socrates. There is something I think that is fundamental to actually understanding the role of statistics in planning, implementation, evaluation, monitoring and in everything. [Interjections.] I am a teacher and you are going to benefit from listening to what I have to say. [Applause.]
The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them.
And I hope that hon George did listen to that because if you keep on pumping out lies in your mind, you end up living the lie. [Applause.]. In supporting this budget, the ANC asserts that it is absolutely critical that we develop an informed and evidence-based society.
Accurate and reliable statistical information is central to our transformation agenda. As Minister Radebe said — and I am not quoting you verbatim sir, but you have actually put it very accurately when you said that the National Development Plan is informed by statistics, and so its implementation, monitoring review and evaluation is going to be largely dependent on statistics.
Therefore, we will be acting on the evidence that we have before us even when we reconfigure the departments. And by the way, part of the reason why we established the Department of Small Business, was because we realised that information from Statistics SA was saying there isn’t enough that is being done in actually building up the entrepreneurship culture in South Africa. We need to have a focus department to actually focus on small businesses. [Applause.]
And I also wanted to say ... [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Order, hon members.
Dr M B KHOZA: ... the reason, by the way, why the ANC pushed so hard and worked so hard to actually come up with the National Development Plan? I am going to tell you. Today, you need to understand the Freedom Charter of 1955. You know, we felt strongly that for us to be able to monitor and measure the impact of how far we have come since 1955, we actually also need a plan that is going to be informing us as to how we do our business as the government, and how we get there.[Applause.]
I think it is for this reason that the ANC is calling on all government agencies; departments; chief procurement officers, CPOs; nongovernmental organisations, NGOs; municipalities; and the private sector to place statistics at the centre of their decision-making process.
This includes the use of statistics in their planning, budgeting, allocation and distribution of resources; performance assessment; monitoring; impact assessment; and national risk assessment.
You did, hon George, point to this; it’s very important and we agree with you there.
Okay, I know that I have to finish off now so that we can all go home. I am entertaining you, but I am also educating you!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mrs Y N Phosa): Hon member, round off.
Dr M B KHOZA: Finally, we want to say as the ANC, we are accepting this budget and we want to encourage Statistics SA to really look very seriously at the production and consumption kind of statistics that are also going to be assisting us with the industrialisation agenda. Thank you. [Time expired] [Applause.]
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY
Dr M B KHOZA
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY (Mr J T Radebe): Chairperson, let me start by thanking all the members who participated in this debate. I just want to endorse what the last speaker, hon Khoza, said.
Now I understand — because some members of the EFF were not participating in the portfolio committee. If they had, or if they had read the annual report, they would have realised that in terms of staffing, Statistics SA is essentially a knowledge organisation and it depends largely on its staff members. Therefore, salaries are important for them.
On consultants, from time to time Statistics SA require the services of highly skilled professionals, but it would be misleading to suggest that these consultants gobble up the bulk of the budget of Statistics SA. From time to time, they employ on a short term basis what we call enumerators. If you participated in the last census you would have realised that the majority of those enumerators are not employees of Statistics SA. Some are university students and so on.
One came to my home and I asked him where he was from. He said: “I represent Statistics SA, but I am student at University of Johannesburg.” It won’t be possible for Statistics SA to employ hundreds of thousands of enumerators on their budget when it happens once in 10 years or in this case, next year when we have this survey.
The term “consultant” is a category to describe people who are not in the employ of the entity, so it is a misnomer to say they are there.
On training, Statistics SA does a lot of training. In the report, members of the EFF, you would have read that about 1% of the budget is used for training.
On the issue of the vacancy rate, it is a valid point. There is a vacancy rate, but it is largely influenced by the type of training that Statistics SA provides to its members and staff and, as a result, there is progression and a career path in Statistics SA. Those posts where people were promoted remain vacant, but they will do something in order to ensure that it closes that gap.
As far as the property is concerned, the Budget Vote that came before ours was that of Public Works. I’m sure they should have directed that question to Public Works because Statistics SA does not procure buildings. The asset owner is Public Works. For whatever reason they decided on this model of private-public partnership, I do understand that after 26 years that building will revert to government.
So, having dispensed with that, I’m very happy to realise that the overwhelming majority of members support this Budget Vote [Applause.] Even the opposition parties, the hon George from the DA, says Statistics SA is a valuable national asset. Thank you very much for that [Applause.]
The hon Singh from IFP says the Statistician-General and Statistics SA do an excellent standard of work. Thank you very much hon member [Applause.]
This is where I end. Because you have behaved so well, on behalf of Statistics SA, we would like to invite you to a cocktail party at the Cape Sun Hotel immediately after the adjournment of the session. Thank you. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 18:58.
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