Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu. Picture: GCIS
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu. Picture: GCIS

Cash-strapped Stats SA and minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu will again approach finance minister Tito Mboweni for funds as it tries to solve its dire financial situation.

On Sunday morning Mthembu, under whose department the agency falls, met the statistician-general Risenga Maluleke and members of the Stats SA council who have threatened to resign en masse.

Mthembu’s spokesperson, Nonceba Mhlauli, could not be reached for the detailed outcome of the meeting. However, a statement from Mthembu’s office said Sunday’s meeting was “to find common ground to ensure continuity and integrity of the statistical system.

“The meeting was productive and congenial,” the statement said.

It also said Mthembu, Maluleke and Prof David Everatt, who chairs the council, will hold further talks with Mboweni and the National Treasury on a lasting solution to the  “imminent risks in the statistical system”.

Stats SA, which produces consumer inflation and unemployment data as well as  surveys on poverty and inequality among other figures needed in the policy-making process, has suffered budget cuts and a freeze on recruitment as it heads into an important national census in 2021.

Emergency funding of R46m in 2020 was promised to Stats SA after a previous round of talks with Mboweni, but this was not a long-term solution.

The government has allocated an additional R3.2bn to Stats SA in coming years to conduct the census but this only covers the rollout of the census.  Everatt told BusinessLIVE last week, “A census that has no Stats SA to analyse it or run a post-enumeration survey is a waste of money.”

 Additional reporting Lynley Donnelly