“Prior to the advent of democracy, there was no reliable source of information available about us or about the country and that is why in 1996, the post-apartheid government conducted its first population census. The importance of Census 2011 cannot be over-emphasised – it is the only tool available to any nation or any country to get information about its people and developments,” David Mabuza, the Premier of Mpumalanga, said at the provincial launch of Census 2011 held in Nelspruit this week.
Without this basic information, Mabuza said, development would be very difficult in this country. There is no doubt, the premier added, that census data also plays a critical role in public administration.
“If you know the demand, you will be in a position to determine the supply. As a province, we need reliable information and timely data on population and a whole range of things. The population is a primary source – very important in our day-to-day activities,” Mabuza said.
Mabuza emphasised that Mpumalanga was ready and committed to increase awareness about Census 2011.
“As a province, we should be motivated and collectively come together to reduce the previous undercount to almost zero – and it is possible! As the government of Mpumalanga, we therefore appeal to the media, communities and religious leaders, as well as civil society groups to plan and undertake activities that will make the 2011 population census memorable. Out of this information, we would know what is it that needs to be done differently. As leaders, we need to understand the profile of communities that we lead. We must lead, as the Statistician-General says, through evidence. Without the right numbers and figures, we are unable to move forward. Census 2011 needs you and me for government to understand our problems. You therefore need to open your hearts, mind, your doors and villages to the census. Let us all be counted,” Mabuza said, calling on people to take part in the census.
Statistician-General of South Africa, Pali Lehohla, spoke about the significance of statistics and the use of numbers for decision-making by government.
“Statistics must tell you the truth all the time and you cannot silence statistics – this is the significance of statistics. For too long, African leaders have undermined the growth of Africa. They lost the plot of measurement because they could not use numbers,” Lehohla said.
“We are confident that a census can be run successfully because of the males and females we have deployed in all the provinces. We have improved in terms of capacity both in the provinces and district offices. The organisation has moved from about 400 to 3 000 people. We are starting a statistical institution in this country where we will be able to train people,” Lehohla added.
Echoing the words of the Statistician-General on the relevance and importance of census data, Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Director-General of Population and Social Statistics at Stats SA, said the success of Census 2011 in Mpumalanga depended on full cooperation and participation in the process by all those living within the province.
“The main census in 2011 will employ 120 000 enumerators across the country, estimated at more than 9 000 fieldworkers in Mpumalanga,” Masiteng said.
Although there was a need to escalate the Census 2011 publicity campaign to ensure that there is widespread understanding and awareness about the census, Masiteng said the organisation was ready to undertake the massive project.
“Publicity is the cornerstone to ensuring the success of Census 2011. We need to make Census 2011 a national effort and we need to treat it as our responsibility,” Masiteng said.
Farming community will support Census 2011
“We fully support Census 2011. Our mother body, Agri SA, fully endorses the process and we are also part of the Census 2011 Project Steering Committee,” said Alun Saayman, Vice-President of Agri Nelspruit.
Saayman pledged that he will engage with members of the farmers’ community to ensure that access is granted to Stats SA fieldworkers during Census 2011, which is set to be undertaken in October next year.