CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN justin.brown@city­press.co.za

New Statis­ti­cian-Gen­eral Risenga Maluleke this week said that he had the where­withal to keep the agency in­de­pen­dent and free of po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, and that it would main­tain the in­tegrity of its sta­tis­tics. Stats SA is the key pro­ducer of of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics and gen­er­ates al­most 260 re­ports on var­i­ous sub­jects, in­clud­ing the coun­try’s GDP, un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures, con­sumer price in­fla­tion and pro­duce in­fla­tion, as well as the na­tional cen­sus, which is pro­duced ev­ery 10 years.

It is vi­tal that these fig­ures are ac­cu­rate for plan­ning pur­poses as well as for use by gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, trade unions, and other eco­nomic ac­tors and or­di­nary peo­ple.

Maluleke started his term on Novem­ber 1 and his ten­ure will last un­til the end of Oc­to­ber 2022. He took over from Pali Le­hohla, who served as the head of the or­gan­i­sa­tion for 17 years.

“There has never been any at­tempt to want to in­ter­fere in the pow­ers of the Statis­ti­cian-Gen­eral and the in­de­pen­dence of Stats SA. We don’t fore­see that ever hap­pen­ing,” Maluleke said.

Since 2014, Stats SA has fallen un­der Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe. The or­gan­i­sa­tion em­ploys about 3 100 peo­ple and has an an­nual bud­get of at least R2.1 bil­lion.

Maluleke said any in­ter­fer­ence with the work of Stats SA could be dis­as­trous.

“We have never seen any over­tures what­so­ever to try to sub­vert the in­de­pen­dence of of­fi­cial num­bers and the in­tegrity of of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics. If we al­low that to hap­pen, it would be dan­ger­ous – not only for Stats SA, but for our na­tion.

“It is like driving a ve­hi­cle with a dash­board. You don’t want your dash­board to tell you that you have a full tank when you are ac­tu­ally a quar­ter empty,” Maluleke ex­plained.

“I was hired with full un­der­stand­ing that I will up­hold the in­de­pen­dence of Stats SA and pro­tect the in­tegrity of its sta­tis­tics. The Sta­tis­tics Act has built in all these checks and bal­ances.

“Other than the Sta­tis­tics Act, the UN Fun­da­men­tal Prin­ci­ples of Of­fi­cial Sta­tis­tics are more like a code for all of­fi­cial statis­ti­cians across the world. They pro­vide us with a ba­sis over which we can raise mat­ters in the pub­lic space, whether it be the abuse of num­bers or what­ever.”

A key ini­tia­tive that Maluleke wants to see come to fruition dur­ing his ten­ure is to make Stats SA dig­i­tal.

“No one can re­sist tech­no­log­i­cal changes in the world. The agility with which hu­man be­ings and or­gan­i­sa­tions adapt to tech­no­log­i­cal change de­fines how they will sur­vive.”

Maluleke said that,

Maluleke is mar­ried and has four chil­dren – three daugh­ters and a son.

He grew up in Lim­popo in a small vil­lage about 200km from Polok­wane and close to the Kruger Na­tional Park.

As a stu­dent, Maluleke turned his fo­cus to sta­tis­tics af­ter he failed most of his sub­jects, in­clud­ing com­puter sci­ence, which was at that stage the fo­cus of his de­gree, but passed math­e­mat­ics in his first year at the Uni­ver­sity of Lim­popo.

He started work­ing for the Gazankulu Ban­tus­tan gov­ern­ment’s sta­tis­tics depart­ment in Novem­ber 1992, be­fore the coun­try’s of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics func­tion was cen­tralised in the form of Stats SA.

Maluleke has worked at Stats SA for 20 years – he joined the or­gan­i­sa­tion as a man­ager at the Lim­popo pro­vin­cial of­fice in 1997.

Prior to tak­ing over from Le­hohla as the head of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, he was the deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral for sta­tis­ti­cal col­lec­tions and out­reach.

Maluleke has com­pleted a BSc in math­e­mat­i­cal sta­tis­tics and an MPhil in ur­ban and re­gional sci­ence. He has also com­pleted se­nior ex­ec­u­tive pro­grammes with Wits and Har­vard Busi­ness School.

MAS­TER AT MATHS New Statis­ti­cianGen­eral Risenga Maluleke

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