SA could get another public holiday

By Staff Writer
South Africa could get an extra public holiday in 2011 should national census day be declared a public holiday.

The proposal for turning national census day into a public holiday is in the hope that people would be home that day and emerged from increasing political insistence that the population of 2011 should be more accurate than previous years.

The chairperson of the statutory Statistics Council in South Africa, Howard Gabriels, said on Wednesday that he believes turning the day into a public holiday could actually do more harm than good.

Gabriels said that it's a huge trend in South Africa for holidays to fall alongside weekends in order to give everyone a long weekend. That would mean nobody would be found at home since they would either have gone away for the long weekend or spend the day on the beach or doing other family activities.

Contrary to Gabriels' belief, Statistician General, Pali Lehohla reckons the key to a more accurate count was for people to be home so they could be enumerated in the evening.

The 1996 census estimated that about 10 percent of the population had not been counted while in 2001 the number increased to 17 percent.

Lehohla added than in order to prevent this number from increasing even more, a public holiday must be declared. The other alternative is to employ 400 000 more people in order to assist with the counting. As many as 13 million households need to be surveyed.

South Africa already has 12 public holidays and it's estimated that the country loses close to a billion rand for every public holiday.

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