Legal Framework for Census Taking

A Population Census is a countrywide exercise and its implementation requires sufficient legal backing. The legal authority is required for fixing the primary administrative responsibility, determining the general scope and timing of the census, protecting the confidentiality of the information, obtaining the necessary resources and placing the legal obligation on the public to cooperate. Countries usually have a law governing data collection, which provides for among others authority to collect data, confidentiality of information collected and ways of dissemination of the information.

Stats SA’s mandate

Stats SA is mandated to provide the state with information about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation in the country. This is in line with the Statistics Act, (Act No. 6 of 1999), and the fundamental principles of official statistics of the United Nations. Stats SA conducts the census based on the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics as outlined below:

The fundamental principles of official statistics

In order to safeguard official statistics and guide national statistics offices in their work, the United Nations has adopted the following fundamental principles of official statistics:

  • Impartiality
  • Professional independence
  • Transparency of methods applied
  • The statistical agency is entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.
  • Use the most efficient sources
  • Confidentiality
  • Transparency of laws
  • Cooperation among institutions
  • Adherence to international standards
  • International cooperation

Click here for more information on the Statistics act.