President Zuma’s speech on the occasion of the release of the 2011 Census results

Sefako M Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria – 30 Oct 2012

The Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission, Mr Trevor Manuel,
Honourable Ministers,
Members of Parliament,
Chairperson of the Statistics Council, Mr Howard Gabriels,
Members of the Statistics Council,
Statistician-General, Mr Pali Lehohla,
Chairperson of the parliamentary finance portfolio committee, Mr Thaba Mufamadi,
Distinguished guests.
It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning at this important event where the results of Census 2011 are ready to be shared with the people of South Africa.

This is a culmination of work undertaken by South Africans last year, when they responded to our call to participate in the national census.

This is the tale of our national pride: The South Africa I know, the Home I understand, our census report. The importance of conducting a population and housing census cannot be overemphasised.

South Africa cannot fulfil its development agenda unless we know, who we are, where we live, work and play and what we need to better our living conditions in the country. There is no better yardstick to achieve that than to undertake population censuses periodically.

This is more important in our country given that our Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems, run by the Department of Home Affairs, are still being improved. We have gone through a past where the registration of the majority was not considered too important.

In 1994, thousands of people still had no birth certificates or identity documents, hence the ongoing registration drive by the Department of Home Affairs to correct the situation, since 1994.

In the absence of such reliable information, a population census provides a universal information base for development planning, policy formulation, monitoring, evaluation and decision-making.

A census measures priorities, monitors trends, evaluates development programmes including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), our poverty reduction strategies and other developmental efforts.

It further contributes to the ability of the state to implement policies for community development planning, monitoring inequalities as well as future planning and resource allocation.

A population census plays a crucial role in public administration.

The results are used to ensure equity in distribution of government services and funds among various regions and districts for basic services. They also help with the delineation of electoral boundaries and to measure the impact of industrial development, to name a few.

This information base includes the population count, characteristics of our people as well as a comprehensive picture of their living conditions. It also gives insight into performance in relation to the implementation of government policies and programmes.

The greatest strength of the census is the provision of detailed population figures at local level. We are dealing here with serious challenges where the majority of our people continue to travel long distances for services.

The progress that the census tells us from 1994 to now should be contextualised with a need for quicker service delivery and faster turn-around time. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a long history of statistics in South Africa.

The first census of the Union of South Africa was undertaken in 1911, one year after its formation. Several enumerations occurred after that, but the black African population was not accurately counted in any of them.

The first true democratic and all-inclusive national population census was conducted in 1996 followed by a census in 2001, ending the days when the majority of South Africans were left out.

For the first time, the results of the population census were a true reflection of the South African population and provided the benchmark against which we measure our development.

These censuses laid a solid foundation for providing evidence about our past and therefore underscore the importance of census 2011 to continue to tell the story of this country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The census operation was a massive undertaking.

It began in 2008 with detailed planning, demarcation of the country in more than 100 000 enumeration areas; recruiting and appointing more than 160 000 fieldworkers and their supervisors; visiting 14 million households to collect information across the country.

What South African story does the census tell us?
It tells us: Who we are; How many we are; and Where we live. It magnifies the colours of the rainbow nation that we are.

It helps us to determine at what rate our population is growing.

In 1996 we were 40.5 million people, growing to 44.8 million in 2001. The Census tells us that over the past 10 years we have grown to be 51.7 million people living within the borders of the country.

According to Census 2011 figures, Gauteng has surpassed KwaZulu-Natal in population size and these two provinces now account for 40% of South Africa’s population.

Gauteng and the Western Cape have been the fastest growing provinces, with Mpumalanga and North West growing at a pace that is also higher compared to what they accounted for in 2001.

KwaZulu-Natal is still big but is now the second largest province. It has recorded lower growth, and similarly, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape recorded lower paces of population growth.

The census results show that our people have moved from the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Free State to Gauteng and Western Cape over the past 10 years. This can possibly be attributed to higher economic activity in these two provinces.

Although there is an improved access to water at 9 out of 10 households who have access to water, the 2011 census also shows that there are still gaps that need to be addressed.

The usage of electricity as the main source for cooking has increased from 45% to 73% between 1996 and 2011.

However, the use of paraffin still remains at 7,5% of all households as their main source of energy.

We know the dangers of this type of energy especially for those of us who live in shack settlements, constituting almost 13% of households in South Africa. Data tells us that 85 % of all households in South Africa use electricity for lighting.

The provision of ablution and sanitation facilities remains a priority for this government. The results reveal that the use of the bucket toilet system has been halved (from 3.9% in 2001 to 1.9% in 2011). Eight in ten households in Gauteng and Western Cape have access to flushing toilets.

On the contrary, much effort still needs to go into providing toilet facilities to some communities in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The profile of households that occupy formal dwelling structures generally depicts an upward trend for all provinces.

The Eastern Cape showed an increase in households residing in formal housing, from 47.6% in 1996 to 61.8% in 2011. However, the province still lags behind the rest of the provinces.

Trends in school enrolment and overall educational attainment of the population have improved since 1996. While the data show disparities across the population groups, the results show a steady increase among Black Africans from 70.7% in 1996 to 74.5% in 2011.

It is heartening to note that the proportion of people who completed higher education has increased from 7.1% in 1996 to 12.3% in 2011.

These figures tell us that at the bottom of the rung is the Black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment and inequality, despite the progress that we have made since 1994.

At the same time, it is evident from the Census 2011 results that great strides have been made in improving the lives for many South Africans. Access to basic services such as piped water, electricity and refuse removal have more than doubled over the period 1996-2011.
However, much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor.
We have already outlined the vision of this better South Africa in our country’s National Development Plan, 2030.

This plan outlines what we need to do as a collective to eliminate poverty as well as to reduce inequality and address the problem of unemployment. The National Development Plan, amongst many recommendations, outlines the vision of communities that have all basic necessities.

For the poor and the working class in our society, this would mean the following according to the plan:

We have water
We use a toilet
We have food on the table
We fall asleep without fear
We listen to the rain on the roof
We gather together in front of heat.
Each community should by 2030 have:

a school
teachers who love teaching and learning
a local library filled with a wealth of knowledge
a librarian
a police station with respected and upright police
a clinic with nurses who love caring for people.

Government departments must now use this information wisely in planning for the extension of these services mentioned in the National Development Plan.
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to express my gratitude to the members of the Statistics Council for their hard work and ultimate certification of the census as a true and accurate reflection of the population of South Africa.

I would also like to congratulate Minister Manuel, the Statistician-General, Mr Lehohla, all Stats SA teams and all South Africans for a highly successful Census.
Honoured guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my honour and privilege to receive the Census 2011 for use by all! I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
30 Oct 2012

Statistics South Africa
Statistics South Africa on release of Census 2011 products