Stats of the na­tion

CityPress - - Voices - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­

In the midst of all the chaos and de­pres­sion around us, we must ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that we have still been able to keep some world­class in­sti­tu­tions run­ning. One of these is Stats SA, which is right up there with its in­ter­na­tional peers. Reg­u­lar vis­its to its web­site will show you why that is: the amount, depth and breadth of in­for­ma­tion is quite some­thing.

In the past few days, three crit­i­cal pieces of in­for­ma­tion from Stats SA were drowned out by the ugly, rot­ten pol­i­tics. They all re­lated to is­sues that are key to the lives of South Africans: crime, gov­er­nance and jobs.

The first one, ti­tled Ex­plor­ing the Ex­tent of and Cir­cum­stances Sur­round­ing House­break­ing/ Bur­glary and Home Rob­bery, looked at these crimes that ter­rify South African cit­i­zens. It noted that, al­though the pro­por­tion of house­holds ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this crime that “vi­o­lates our pri­vate space and the one place that we think of as our sanc­tu­ary” has been on the de­cline for five years, pub­lic per­cep­tions were the op­po­site.

Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing home rob­bery (a break-in while the family is there) from house­break­ing (bur­glary), the re­port says the for­mer “fu­els fear in com­mu­ni­ties, be­cause it puts peo­ple at risk of per­sonal in­jury and emo­tional trauma in their homes, where they should feel safest”.

Then came the re­ally fright­en­ing part, which painted an ap­palling pic­ture of the ar­rest and con­vic­tion rates.

“An ar­rest is made in only one out of ev­ery five re­ported cases of house­break­ing or home rob­bery. Only one in five peo­ple ar­rested for house­break­ing was con­victed, and one in three peo­ple ar­rested for home rob­bery was con­victed,” it stated.

The sec­ond re­port, The Non-fi­nan­cial Cen­sus of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, con­tains some dis­turb­ing in­for­ma­tion about the va­cancy rates in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that can­not af­ford to be short of ser­vice-de­liv­ery per­son­nel. Over­all, the va­cancy rate jumped from 13.3% in 2015 to 14.4% in 2016. Last year, the most af­fected ar­eas in terms of un­filled va­can­cies were en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion at 26.1%, road trans­port at 22.3% and waste­water man­age­ment at 19.9%. What was wor­ry­ing was that only health – at 10.9% – had a va­cancy rate of less than 12%. Cru­cial func­tions such as elec­tric­ity (13.7%), wa­ter (13.6%) and fi­nance (12.9%) had un­ac­cept­able va­cancy rates.

Such high va­cancy rates when po­si­tions are fully funded af­fect ser­vice de­liv­ery and in­crease the re­liance on out­side con­sul­tants, the re­port noted. By way of il­lus­tra­tion, it pointed out that in Vry­heid – which ex­pe­ri­enced a se­vere drought in the year in ques­tion and had to em­ploy wa­ter tankers – the va­cancy rate is 30.5%. Rusten­burg’s waste­water man­age­ment stood at a stag­ger­ing 69%. Road trans­port, which is of­ten the cause of com­mu­nity griev­ance, turned up some alarm­ing num­bers. In Man­gaung, 74% of va­cant posts were un­filled and Masilonyana (also in the Free State) stood at 69%. Al­though the va­cancy rate in elec­tric­ity came down from 20.2% to 13.7% last year, it is still con­sid­ered high.

The third was the re­lease of the Quar­terly Labour Force Sur­vey, which re­vealed that South Africa’s un­em­ploy­ment rate now stood at 27.7% – its high­est since 2003. Iron­i­cally, this was in the quar­ter in which 144 000 new jobs were created in the econ­omy, a num­ber off­set by the en­try of 433 000 job­seek­ers. The sur­vey said 58% of these new job­seek­ers were be­tween 18 and 34 years of age, thus push­ing the youth un­em­ploy­ment rate to 38.6%.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate among those with­out ma­tric was 33.1%, while among grad­u­ates, it was 7.3%. If you use the ex­panded def­i­ni­tion of un­em­ploy­ment by in­clud­ing those who have just given up on look­ing for work, the fig­ure goes to 36.4%, al­most a 10% in­crease. And if you want it in raw fig­ures, we are talk­ing about 9.3 mil­lion South Africans who can­not find work.

Why, I hear you ask, are we talk­ing about such seem­ingly mun­dane mat­ters when there are so many more fas­ci­nat­ing sub­jects, such as Duduzane’s com­pli­cated love life and the saucy pic­tures that dropped into his in­box? Why should we be con­cerned about bor­ing is­sues when there is such scin­til­lat­ing stuff in the po­lit­i­cal world – from emails to mo­tions of no con­fi­dence and a pres­i­dent who threat­ens his ex­ec­u­tive not to “push him too far”?

Well, it is be­cause these are the is­sues that should be con­sum­ing us. In a so­ci­ety that is se­ri­ous about solv­ing prob­lems, the con­tent of these re­ports would spell cri­sis in cap­i­tal letters. A cit­i­zenry that lives in con­stant fear in a free coun­try is not en­joy­ing its free­dom.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and govern­ment de­part­ments that de­prive res­i­dents of qual­ity ser­vices be­cause they are un­able to fill va­can­cies are also de­priv­ing peo­ple of the tan­gi­ble fruits of free­dom.

The same can be said with re­gard to the un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis, which de­prives fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als of a de­cent stan­dard of liv­ing.

There has to come a time when these are the big is­sues on the minds of South Africans, both in the state and out­side of govern­ment.

But then, as the Zuma/Gupta mafia is busy plun­der­ing, the coun­try has no choice but to be con­sumed by their crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

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