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DA lambastes Stats SA for blaming racism for low Western Cape census turnout

Statistician General Risenga Maluleka. Picture: Supplied

Statistician General Risenga Maluleka. Picture: Supplied

Published May 19, 2022

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Cape Town - The DA on Thursday lambasted statistician-general Risenga Maluleka for blaming racism and not their own organisational challenges for the low count in the province.

This comes after the Stats SA told the public service and administration on Wednesday that one of the challenges it faced was some racial groups not wanting to be counted by others and not willing to work in certain areas.

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The entity also blamed farmers in the province for chasing away the fieldworkers and non-response by citizens residing in high-walled areas and gated communities.

The low turnout was also compounded by general apathy to public participation and the Covid-19 conditions, among others.

Western Cape, which has recorded 73% as of Wednesday and recorded the highest undercount in the last census, is the only province where counting is underway after it was extended to May 31 due to low turnout.

DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said blaming “racism” by "coloured and white people" in the Western Cape was reminiscent of former labour department director-general Mzwanele Manyi’s “coloured people are over-represented in the Western Cape” comment.

“The DA rejects this "red herring" argument with the contempt it deserves, which side-steps their own planning and management deficiencies,” he said.

Mbhele said Stats SA should rather urgently intensify a leveraged advertising and publicity campaign that involved the Western Cape government to ensure that residents in the province were fully informed to participate in the census before the deadline.

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“A comprehensive and targeted campaign in the province will help to eliminate the risk of low public awareness while increasing the participation rate among households,” Mbhele said.

He also said the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town were acutely aware that service delivery would suffer due to the apparent low participation rate. Hence, they embarked on their own paid campaigns.

Mbhele put the blame squarely on Stats SA for the low turnout so far, saying it spent 27% less on promoting Census 22 compared to the one conducted in 2011.

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“Of the R3.1 billion budget for the 2022 Census, the 2020/21 Stats SA annual report shows that only R44 million was spent for advertising the national Census in 2021.

“Even if more was spent to advertise the census since the report was published, it seems clear that much less publicity around the census was done,” he said.

Cape Times

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