Manuel: Census important for delivery
Cape Town - The link between the national census in October next year and service delivery is fundamentally important for development, Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning Trevor Manuel said on Wednesday.
Education and health facilities were examples, he told a media briefing at Parliament.
It would be good to know how many pupils there were, what courses they were doing, what the prospective grades were, and to know this early enough to intervene, he said.
"In areas like education, we're still leaving too much to chance to make interventions early in the lives of people."
At the start of every year, there were more pupils than places in schools, because families moved from some provinces to Gauteng and the Western Cape.
"Now if you don't know that people are moving, if you don't know when they are moving, if you have no system that actually advises you where people are, you can never have schools in the rights places."
Parts of the Eastern Cape had wonderfully constructed face-brick schools, but not enough pupils to keep them going.
Other parts of the province had mud schools that should not qualify as institutions of education.
"So if you don't know these things, you can't actually get the facilities in the places where people are."
Healthcare was probably even more complex, Manuel said.
For example, it was necessary to know exactly where and which type of clinic should be situated for those needing them.
In the overburdened public health system used by about 82% of South Africans, "we don't know enough about what the money buys".
"Are we training our medical professionals adequately to be able to deliver services, does the epidemiological profile get used in the process of training?"
These were fundamental important issues, he said.
"The idea of the national statistical system is something we have to work at consistently. It's not going to be delivered by decree.
"There needs to be a change of attitude across the board for greater space created for people to be able to provide the information and for better collection of what we have."
The undercount in Census 2001 was a problem and this time round it had to be reduced very significantly.
"We're looking at low single digits. From 17% to low single digits, if at all."
It was necessary to know exactly how many people were in the country between October 10 and 31 next year.
The risks were in informal settlements, where frequently there were people who would "want to live below the radar screen, because they don't want us to know of their existence".
Many of them might not be in the country legally and so had genuine fears.
There were also very wealthy people who lived behind tight security measures and did not want enumerators coming to their doors.
Civil society, sport, religious organisations, and the media, among others, would all have to help get enumerators to where people were.
"It's in our collective interest to know how many people there are, what they do, what their living standards are, what their life circumstances are.
"Because without knowing, we won't be able to direct what to do," Manuel said.
Statistician General Pali Lehohla, said people, including foreigners within South Africa, need have no fear about the census.
"We really are not the police or home affairs. We need to reassure them (foreigners) that the information they provide, while important for decision-making, should not do them harm. And we need them to participate in the census," he said.
Census 2011 project director Calvin Molongoana, said the Statistics Act clearly stated the data collected by Stats SA had to be treated as confidential.
"So, therefore, we cannot divulge information that we collected for statistical purposes for any other thing.
"That is the bottom line in relation to the work that we do."
Secondly, the questions did not include whether people were in the country legally or illegally, he said