I'm glad to share facts with Sowetan readers

Pali Lehohla had been SA's statistician-general for 17 years. Now the 'Man in the Yellow Suit' will be writing for Sowetan on a weekly basis.
Pali Lehohla had been SA's statistician-general for 17 years. Now the 'Man in the Yellow Suit' will be writing for Sowetan on a weekly basis.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

According to Helmut Spinner, one of the cornerstones that characterise an information society is where information is made available, everywhere and simultaneously.

But he argues that for this to succeed, literacy levels in society must be high, access to and utilisation to information should be promoted and the lived experience of society of enjoying basic freedoms should be guaranteed.

In the recent past, I have been confronted by myself. I had some serious introspection.

Since September 28 2002, I have been writing for the Business Report to date and now I write two columns a week. Over a period of time as I meet people across the country, I am greeted by "how is retirement treating you?" and "what are you doing with yourself?"

But just about a year after I left office, I was at Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, asking the security personnel where the pay-point for parking was.

The gentleman looked at me with a keen interest and less concerned with my question. Then with a bear hug he exclaimed "Mr Maluleke."

This left a profound message in my mind and I, at that point, concluded that there are five profound points I could make without fear of contradiction.

First, Statistics SA is well-known and its products are enjoyed and appreciated by the rank and file.

Second, the transition to Risenga Maluleke from me was very successful and this is in that it mattered not who the security personnel saw - be it Risenga or Pali, all of them meant Statistics SA.

Third, that Risenga has been installed, he has arrived and he has made his mark.

Fourth, I ensure that I draw attention to each one about the new boss in office and each of the encounters have endorsed statistician-general Maluleke as one who holds his own.

Fifth, I tell them of my disappointment that the Shangaan man refused to inherit my yellow suit when it is known that he comes from society that enjoys being colourful.

It is a regret which I share to the amusement of audiences.

This message was further reinforced by my participation at the summit of the International Publishers Association held in Nairobi a week ago.

At that meeting, African authors and publishers were agitating for writing in indigenous languages, a position I support.

I reflected on my sixteen years of the weekly columns I have been and continue to be writing in the Business Report and asked myself what audience have I not been writing for?

Who have I been leaving behind? Have I carefully followed on Spinner's condition for meeting the prerequisites of an information society?

I have felt the burden to serve and with a yellow suit that I could not pass on as a baton to my successor and an audience I am not serving, I have now decided in addition to continuing with weekly columns in the Business Report, I will be writing for the Sowetan on a weekly basis and there could be two other weekly papers serving the black community largely I am prepared to serve.

No one should be left behind in experiencing the liberating power of dispensing with a vote and participating in political life through the power of facts.

*Dr Lehohla is the former statistician-general and former head of Statistics SA. Meet him on www.pie.org.za and Twitter @PaliLehohla

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