JOHANNESBURG - Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, says those vested with the responsibility of measuring population statistics should strive to report accurately as false figures could result in underdevelopment.
The Minister said this when he addressed the opening of the 28th International Population Conference (IPC) of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Sunday evening.
“I…appeal to all of you here today ─ and those who will follow on your footsteps for many generations to come ─ to remain true to form at all times.
“Those who measure should never succumb to any temptation whatsoever, or to submit to whatever pressure, to falsify the count of populations of the world. For, doing so will not only mean abdicating your responsibilities, but also dragooning the masses of the world on a road to underdevelopment, subversion and doom.
“The study of populations cannot be submitted to petty opinions of sudden impulse and superstition. It should be rooted in solid science. And science requires fundamental understanding of the theoretical impetus at play,” Radebe said.
The opening of the conference, hosted by Statistics South Africa being held for the first time on South African soil, was attended by over 1000 delegates from around the world.
The event, which is 89 years old, is held every four years and attracts population scientists, policymakers, civic organisation and government leaders from 131 countries.
Addressing delegates, Radebe said the building of a solid scientific base to solve problems - current and future ones - will require the world to go out there and build capacity.
He said such a capacity should harness the skills and expertise that global countries currently have and gives rise to young and upcoming offshoots.
“It requires a hand-holding to young and upcoming demographers, statisticians, economists and developmental scientist.
“On our continent, we have a program of young African statisticians who have been meeting every two years. Young Africans can only succeed if they are part of a great global establishment. Scientific knowledge becomes meaningful if it is universal.”
He said nations, both developing and developed, invest lots of resources to understand the number of people they lead and where and how these people live. “The quest to understand these issues has become quite important for both leaders and the citizenry alike."
“The premise of making such a public good available to all at once ensures that those of us who are in public office are held accountable by the electorate at all times. It creates a robust culture of public trust in navigating sometimes a complex path in the choices of policies that nations make,” he said.
Radebe introduced Risenga Maluleke as the incoming Statistics SA Statistician General to replace outgoing Statistician General Pali Lehohla, whose contract expires on October 31.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE