S Africans urged to be counted

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to participate in the 2011 census, saying it will help to build a legacy for the country's children.

"By undertaking a census today, we prepare a legacy for our children... built on evidence and facts, a legacy whose development and growth can be sustained," Zuma said on Monday at the 50-day countdown to South Africa's third national census since the advent of democracy.

"We urge all our citizens to open their doors to the census enumerators who will engage in this count," said the President, adding that projections suggest the South African population could be around 50 million.

"We need to know if that is true and how the population is distributed in terms of our settlements."

Knowing where the country's population resides, their access to services and other information collected through the census will help government plan for the future, as well as to see how far the country has come and what still needs to be done, Zuma said.

"We must obtain answers to questions such as, what must the South Africa of tomorrow look like?"

A total of 156 000 fieldworkers will descend on the country's households when the census kicks off on 10 October until 31 October 2011. They will be fluent in the country's 11 official languages as well as in Portuguese and French.

The census will also inform South Africa on how far it has come with achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel noted that there was some hesitation on people opening their doors for people they do not know. He said people administering the census will be identifiable by yellow bibs as well as an ID card.

People can also contact Statistics South Africa's toll free number 0800 110 248 to verify the legality of enumerators. "We want to remove every obstacle to security," said Manuel.

All people within South African borders will be expected to answer the 75 questions in the questionnaire, which is expected to take 45 minutes to complete.

People in hospital, prisons and other institutions will also be counted.

"It is not about checking papers. People may be aware of the undercount which was very high in the last census. Now we want to overcome that," Statistician General Pali Lehohla said.

The undercount in the 2001 census was 17%.

According to the Statistics Act, it is obligatory for citizens to participate in the census. South Africans were also called on to answer all questions in the questionnaire and to do so truthfully.

"We will be misleading our country if we don't do it truthfully," said Manuel, adding that information will be kept confidential.

The census will be conducted from 10 - 31 October, after which a post enumeration survey (to make sure of the findings of the census survey) will be conducted in November.

Earlier on Monday, Stats SA staff was handing out pamphlets about the census to motorists along D.F Malan road in Pretoria.

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