[FACT CHECK] Zuma’s ANC birthday speech

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), celebrated its 105th-anniversary last week. President Jacob Zuma delivered the party’s January 8th address in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium.

In this report, we fact-check claims Zuma made about job creation, load-shedding, housing, the matric pass rate, university funding and life expectancy. We are still in the process of verifying these two:

  • more than 22 million people have been provided with housing over the last two decades, and

  • The National Student Financial Aid Scheme currently cover over 75% of students in tertiary institutions, mostly from poor and working class households.

At the time of publishing this report, we had not received a response from the ANC to questions asking for the source of Zuma’s statistics. (Note: We will update this report if we receive one.)

South African employment data is typically reported through two sets of statistics collected by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the Quarterly Labour Force Survey and the Quarterly Employment Survey.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey is based on household surveys conducted by Stats SA in which data is collected on the work activities of people between 15 and 64 years. The Quarterly Employment Survey complements the Quarterly Labour Force Survey but in this case, businesses are surveyed to get data on formal sector jobs.

Let’s evaluate Zuma’s claim using both data sets.

While 67,000 jobs were created during the second quarter of 2016, the quarterly labour force data showed that in the first six months of last year, the country recorded net losses of 26,000 manufacturing jobs.

Between January and October 2016 a net of 55,000 manufacturing jobs was lost.

Data from Stats SA’s Quarterly Employment Survey doesn’t support Zuma’s claim either. It shows consistent job losses across the three-quarters of 2016, with overall manufacturing job losses of 19,000 in that time. In the first six months of 2016, South Africa recorded net job losses amounting to 26,000 manufacturing jobs.

Therefore neither the Stats SA datasets backs up Zuma’s claim. But why is there a discrepancy between the two?

Stats SA said in a statement that they are dependent on the data businesses supply. Improving the collection of such data, through better administrative systems in business, will help the agency reduce the wide differences between the two datasets. – Vinayak Bhardwaj

The phrasing of Zuma’s claim suggests that there has been no load-shedding – planned electricity blackouts by South Africa’s power utility Eskom to manage supply and demand – since August 2016. It appears to be an incorrect claim recycled from Zuma’s 2016 State of the Nation address.

At the time, it was incorrect because load-shedding last occurred on 14 September 2015, according to Eskom. It’s still incorrect and due for an update from Zuma’s speech writers. – Kate Wilkinson

Zuma’s claim is correct if “progressed” pupils are excluded from the calculation of the matric pass rate.

In 2016, 108,742 pupils nationally who failed grade 11 were allowed to move onto grade 12. Of these, 67,510 pupils went on to write their exams and 29,384 passed (43.5%).

When progressed learners are included in the calculation, the Free State’s pass rate drops to 88.2%. – Kate Wilkinson

Stats SA publishes life expectancy data annually as part of its mid-year population estimates.

Life expectancy for men and women rose from 59.9 years in 2012 to 61.6 in 2014, according to the 2016 estimates. The figure for 2016 is 62.4 years.

Stats SA is not the only organisation that produces life expectancy estimates for South Africa, however. Given that they are estimates, the figures all differ slightly, Dr Leigh Johnson from the University of Cape Town’s school of public health and family medicine told Africa Check.

Her department’s model – the Thembisa mathematical model – estimates that life expectancy increased from 60.7 years in 2012 to 62 in 2014.

“The important point is that most of the agencies’ estimates show that life expectancy has been increasing steadily,” Johnson added. – Vinayak Bhardwaj

This article appeared on AfricaCheck.org, a non-partisan organisation which promotes accuracy in public debate and the media. Follow them on Twitter: @AfricaCheck