New Stats SA head Risenga Maluleke and outgoing Statistician-General Pali Lehohla.

The new Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke will not swop his tailor-made suit for a yellow one synonymous with public appearances of his outgoing predecessor Dr Pali Lehohla. 

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe yesterday announced Maluleke as Stats SA head and thanked Lehohla for having "brightened up" the country during his tenure.

Maluleke, whose career as a statistician at the organisation spans 20 years, expressed his intention to continue where Lehohla had left off. 

He however told journalists that he would disappoint Lehohla by not wearing the yellow suit he usually wore during Census SA campaigns.

"Let me mention that I have no aspirations to follow Pali Lehohla's example and put on a yellow suit. I am going to disappoint you. All I can say is that I would like to provide measurements to the country (and) do so impartially."

He said statisticians always fielded question from the media about policy matters, but often would answer by explaining the role of Stats SA.

"The role of Stats SA is to measure and illuminate issues impartially without taste buds," said Maluleke, who will officially assume office on November 1. 

He further assured the country that he would take his work seriously.

"Maiden speeches are always not the best because people haven't performed yet. One thing I would want to assure South Africa through the minister is that I take this responsibility quite seriously.

"I have been in Stats SA for 20 years. There is nothing that I don't know about Stats SA. I understand everything. I understand its successes and where issues need to be tweaked to go forward," he said.

Lehohla, who had been at the helm of the entity for 17 years, said he was happy to leave the organisation in highly professional hands.

Outgoing Statistician-General Pali Lehohla.

He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to former presidents and President Jacob Zuma for allowing him to serve the country as Stats SA head.

"I take it that, yes I am not a South African by naturalisation. I come from Lesotho, but this country gave me a rare privilege; a rare privilege to lead the organisation that is so crucial, as a person from outside," he said.

Radebe said Maluleke's appointment was agreed upon by cabinet members during their meeting on Wednesday.

"I am indeed happy to announce that Mr Maluleke, with all his passion, commitment and institutional memory will serve to ensure the journey of Stats SA delivers on being the pre-eminent conduit of trust," he said.

He praised Lehohla for his valuable commitment and announced that preparations were underway for a function befitting his contribution to Stats SA.

"Dr Lehohla, under your leadership, Stats SA is universally considered as the best national statistics office on the continent. Walking with you at the UN Headquarters in the US recently, and noting how people across the globe recognise you and embrace your efforts was a lesson in extraordinary commitment and a testimony to your resilence,"he said.

Radebe also used the briefing to announce government's state of readiness of the coming centenary celebration of the late ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo.

He said the celebration will take place on October 27 at Tambo's birthplace in Nkantolo in the Eastern Cape.

On the eve of the occasion former president Thabo Mbeki would deliver a memorial lecture hosted by the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation at the University of the Witswatersand's Great Hall.

Maluleke said: "When I was growing up as a little village boy, little did I know that one day I would be put in the same hall where matters of OR Tambo would be discussed. It is a huge responsibility."