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Make Money Mondays

'Statistics reveal difficult stories. I wish politicians could see what I see'

7 October 2020 3:10 PM

Former Statistician-General Dr Pali Lehohla on his attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Every week The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews a famous person about her or his attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.) as part of his weekly “Other People’s Money” feature.

This week he interviewed Dr Pali Lehohla, South Africa’s straight-shooting former Statistician-General.

Former Statistician-General Pali Lehohla. Picture: EWN

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Lehohla was born in Lesotho in 1957.

He’s was appointed as South Africa’s first Statistician-General in November 2000.

Lehohla holds a BA in Economics and Statistics, and a postgraduate diploma in population studies.

He was responsible for democratic South Africa’s first population census in 1996.

I was born in a village, so I’m told… in Lesotho… 63 years ago… I was born to teachers… My maternal grandfather was a priest, he moved there as a missionary… My mother died there in 1964. My father taught there until retirement…

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

My eldest brother became the Chief Justice of Lesotho and my second-eldest brother became the Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho… My one sister in Kenya is a mathematician and the other one is a mathematician in Lesotho.

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

How I became Statistician-General was a game of chance… I wanted to study Geology, but the University of Lesotho didn’t offer it… I ended up in South Africa by accident…

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

Listen to the interview in the audio below (and scroll down for more quotes from it).

South Africa is a place where you can’t sit and watch. You actually need to express an opinion… We deserve our own foolishness, don’t we?

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

I said in jest to the current Statistician-General, ‘I served for 68 quarters and I only had one recession. You’ve done only 12 quarters, and you’ve blessed us with several, and now almost a depression! What have you done to the numbers of the country! … It looks like there’s nothing to measure!

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

I like statistics… their beauty in revealing very difficult stories. I wish the politicians in South Africa could see what I see, but I don’t think they do. Because if they did, they would’ve acted… it’s a very sharp lens…

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

Human beings are slaves of hope, and I’m one of those slaves… South Africa is reversing very quickly… it’s a very depressing situation…

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General

7 October 2020 3:10 PM

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