Cape Town - As Saturday’s national census extension deadline for the Western Cape looms, the pressure is on citizens to beat the clock to complete the census questionnaire, or face having fewer resources available for service delivery in the future.
The data collected during the census is used for planning, policy formulation and as the basis for budget allocation to municipalities, provinces and national government.
Political leaders have appealed to their supporters and citizens across the Western Cape generally to urgently get counted as Stats SA data collectors make a last push in communities with low response rates.
Provincial leader of the opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC) said: “If not every household and every person in the province is counted, it will have serious implications for the provincial and national government where policy formulation and budgeting is concerned.”
He said information from Stats SA at the time it granted the extension showed that almost 1.1 million households in the province had completed the census questionnaire, with over 600 000 households yet to be visited.
Dugmore laid the blame for the low participation in the census partly on the governing DA and Premier Alan Winde for not coming out strongly enough to counter calls for Cape independence and said the DA’s chickens were coming home to roost.
“This non-participation comes when you promote notions such as forever wanting to set the Western Cape apart from the rest of the country.”
He said Winde’s statement in April when he sounded the alarm on the low census count and said that the province would lose R10 billion in funding if people were not counted, had “sown panic and confusion among the people.”
“The ANC calls on the people to ignore the DA’s negative sentiments and take advantage of the online questionnaire to ensure that every resident is counted,” Dugmore said.
Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais said people had become disillusioned and apathetic.
“They said to me ‘voting won't help us, no one cares about us, and every day is a challenge just to find food to stay alive in this new South Africa’. So to hell with the census Mr Marais. We are not blaming you but the government. Can we blame them?”
Nevertheless, Marais said that his message to such people was to register regardless because if the government doesn't know of their existence it cannot budget for grants, education, housing and other needs.
Al Jama-ah Party MPL Galil Brinkhuis said: “People must make sure that they are properly counted when the people conducting the census come around, because if they are not counted, then the provincial government is not going to receive adequate funds for the needs of all of our citizens.”
He said: “It is very important for everybody to partake in the census. We urge our supporters to come out in the numbers to get registered online.”