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The census of 2022 was met with massive challenges – both avoidable and unavoidable.
The global pandemic was one such unforeseen obstacle. However, the consistent and - one may argue - deliberate under funding of Statistics South Africa is something we have been lamenting in this House for years.
A census is critical as a tool to take stock and to foreground government planning for an ever-evolving population.
That is why the integrity of the data must be beyond reproach.
Lessons must be learnt from this Census of 2022.
If a government is to be responsive to the growing needs of its population, then great investment must go into ensuring that the entity tasked with that responsibility is funded and capacitated.
Delving deeper into the findings of the Census and really studying the numbers we saw shows us that South Africa is a country of great potential let down by a bad government.
No one who is truly invested in the future of this country can look at these figures and arrive at the conclusion that the government of the day that has enjoyed 29 years of uninterrupted governance has served our people well.
In fact, the opposite is true.
The gains we have made, have been in spite of the ANC and not because of it.
While our population has increased by 10.3 million people, our economy has not grown since the previous Census to meet their needs.
This has to be the biggest indictment of the ANC government.
A quality education, an opportunity to find meaningful work and access to quality basic services is the surest way to ensure that South Africans live a life of dignity.
Under this government they do not.
And no fudging of the numbers will convince anyone otherwise.
They do not need to be sold a well-painted picture of their lives.
They experience the poverty, the joblessness and the broken towns and cities on a daily basis.
Let us look at the numbers:
South Africa continues to have a young population with the median age being 28 years old; but this ANC government has failed our young people, with 6 out 10 young people being jobless and hopeless.
I often wonder if la maqabane of the oldest liberation movement on the continent even understand the indignity of ukungaphangeli nje ngamntu omtsha.
Abantu abatsha bayangqunga imihla nezolo kumakhaya abo, bephelelwe lithemba lokufumana umsebenzi ukuze baziphilele ubomi obunesidima.
While the number of learners in schools has increased to 73.4% of learners – a commendable feat – it is completely undermined by the fact that over 80% of learners in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning.
The Basic Education Deputy Minister, Reginah Mhaule, tried to justify this in Parliament last week by stating that we are only performing so poorly because we measure ourselves against developed countries.
What a devastating admission that this government does not believe that our children in this country are not deserving of the best basic education the world has to offer.
The ANC is content with shackling an entire group of children to an education that will never allow them access to any jobs market one day.
Another generation of poor black children who have to accept the scraps that this government is prepared to offer.
Access to basic services:
According to this Census, 94,7% of South Africans have access to electricity.
However, this must be cruellest form of punishment for people who have hardly had their lights on during this time. The ANC allowed rampant corruption at SOEs like Eskom to the point where this access to electricity is meaningless if people cannot use it.
This year, as of August, South Africans have sat in the dark for 1,300 hours or almost two months collectively. Stage 6 load shedding in the previous Census was unthinkable. In this Census, it is now a norm.
This is not just about not being able to switch the lights on. It is deeper than that.
This crisis has shut down small business, plunged more South Africans deeper into poverty as they once again join the unemployment queues.
The energy crisis is not an inconvenience – it is a matter of hunger or food for millions of people.
The ANC will tell South Africans is how much piped water they have provided. According to this Census, the percentage of households without access to piped water has halved. What that does not mention are the service delivery failures that have become synonymous with this Government.
Communities across South Africa are without water. Some communities cannot drink their water, as it is too dirty and unhealthy. Some communities only have water for parts of the day. Some not at all.
Instead of committing to building bulk water infrastructure that will ensure sustainable access to the poorest communities – amaCom atyisana imali with the Giyani water project – njengomzekelo.
That project went into the millions because of greed, selfishness and criminal disregard for those communities who have looked to government for assistance oko kwango 1994.
Western Cape successes
I want to turn my attention to the people who matter the most – South Africans at home.
Not all hope is lost. South Africa is a country with great potential let down by a bad government.
This is why we have the Western Cape leading in all these indicators.
This is not by accident. It is because of a government that is committed to serving instead of stealing.
The Western Cape has the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa at 20.9; against the national average of 32,6%.
Those are not just figures – they are families and young people who are able to live a life of dignity because the City and the Province create an environment that allows the private sector to set up shop and provide jobs for our residents.
Over and above the massive investment in job creation – the provincial government is making sure that our learners are able to catch up time lost during the pandemic so that they may be able to improve their literacy rates.
The Western Cape Department of Education has invested R1.2 billion on its ‘Back on Track’ programme. We can never allow a generation of poor black kids to continue to be trapped in poverty when there are interventions that can improve their lot in life.
The statistics of DA-difference speak for themselves. 99.1% of Western Cape residents have access to piped water.
93.4% of Western Cape residents have access to a flush toilet.
Compared to ANC run provinces, these lived realities are worlds apart.
The province and our various governments in this province prioritise the poorest and the most marginalised. Quality education and fair access to jobs is the only way that we will change people’s lives.
The excellent news is that these delivery statistics do not have to be limited to the Western Cape. This can be the story of KwaZulu Natal. This can be the reality for Gauteng residents. This DA difference can also be coming to the Northern Cape.
South Africa, help is on the way.
Change your vote. Change your government and change your lives for the better.
Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP - DA Chief Whip