South Africa: Staff Shortages Are Crippling Stats SA

press release

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned by the increasing decimation of Statistics South Africa due to chronic underfunding.

Following consecutive periods of under funding for the last 10 years, StatsSA is now struggling to retain its already minimal staff.

New information presented to the portfolio committee of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation today shows that 116 staff members left the entity in the current financial year. This brings the vacancy rate to over 20%, which is unacceptably high for StatsSA to deliver on its mandate of producing evidence-based statistical research and conducting the population census.

According to the Statistician- General, Risenga Maluleke, the staff departure includes some of the "most senior and experienced" personnel. This has an adverse impact of the size and quality of the work Stats SA conducts.

The situation is so dire that in some instances current staff members are acting in more than one position to make up for the capacity constraints. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future as there is no glimmer of hope that StatsSA will get additional funding to hire new staff.

The cumulative effect of all of these is that StatsSA is unable to function optimally to consistently produce evidence-based research that guides policy making in both the public and private sector. This is already pressurizing StatsSA to discontinue some of its critical work, such as the Estimates of Poverty, as it does not have the capacity to undertake such large-scale projects.

It is incomprehensible that the ANC government fails to provide an important entity like StatsSA the resources it needs given the magnitude of its work, yet it always finds money for bailouts for unprofitable state-owned enterprises like SAA.

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