South Africans, say cheese

Statistics South Africa and the government are calling upon the nation to participate in the upcoming census, an effort to count everyone within national borders.

Census 2011 starts on October 10, and data related to 14-million households will be collected over 21 days. With the slogan “You count”, it aims to produce a snapshot of the population, although many people still don’t know what the census is about.

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said: “Participation in the census, apart from being a statutory obligation, is directly and unashamedly in [South Africans’] own interest.”

According to Stats SA, which conducts the census, the information collected will give government and private sector an accurate picture of South African living conditions. This will tell them what resources people need.

“A census is the only source for community level data on issues such as migration patterns, education, persons with disabilities, employment and unemployment, fertility, mortality and service delivery, all of which are critical for planning,” states the agency website.

Political parties have shown their full support for Census 2011, and public representatives are being urged to help encourage the population to participate.

Even though people are afraid of disclosing personal information, Stats SA guarantees confidentiality. The agency’s employees are legally bound never to reveal individual information they gather though the census.

People will be counted according to where they are on the night of October 9. A census attendant told Vuvuzela that residence officers will hand out questionnaires for students who live on campus.

Institutions such as hospitals and prisons will be counted using administrative records supplied by the person in charge, so everyone will get a chance to be enumerated.

The census is conducted every 10 years and this will be the third time the entire South African population is counted. Results are expected to be available in March 2013.

Fieldworkers will be wearing a yellow bib and carrying a satchel with the Census and Stats SA logos, an ID card and a book with a map of the area.