Military disruptions put census in danger

Fears are mounting that the decennial population census scheduled to start soon will be thrown into disarray by interference from soldiers who are demanding to be registered as enumerators.

The Zimbabwean has received numerous reports from across the country of soldiers who have stormed venues where enumerators are supposed to be undergoing training in preparation for the census which is planned to take off on 18 August and end ten days after.

The military are reportedly demanding to be part of the enumeration exercise and are insisting that the training will not take place unless they are taken on board.

This is despite the fact that the Acting Finance Minister, Gorden Moyo, on Monday told journalists that soldiers would only be involved as peacekeepers, not enumerators.

A source told this paper that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was trying to stuff the exercise with 10,000 soldiers, meaning that the army would make up a third of the required personnel.

A teacher from Mashonaland Central province said they had been invited for a training workshop that was supposed to take place at Kutama College near President Robert Mugabe’s rural home, but since Monday when they arrived, they were still waiting.

‘‘We arrived on Monday for the training but the soldiers are blocking training. Even though they are not beating up people, they are insisting that they be trained as enumerators as well,’ said the teacher who added that they were accommodated at the training institution.

In Harare and Chitungwiza, enumerators who gathered for training are facing the same dilemma, with isolated cases of violence in some areas when the soldiers beat up those that had reported for workshops.

Reports indicate that training which had started in Highfield was disrupted, ostensibly because of soldiers’ interference.

Zimbabwe Statistical Agency Director, Dzinozivei Mutasa, on Wednesday refused to comment on the matter saying it was being handled at a ‘‘higher level’’.

“My hands are tied and I cannot comment on the issue. It is being handled at a higher level,” he told The Zimbabwean.

Unlike in past censuses, the police is also involved, with insiders divulging that details were jostling to bribe their way into the exercise.

Census supervisors at various centers have pointed out that the disruptions being caused by the military are likely to affect service delivery as some trained personnel were being replaced mysteriously.

“We feel intimidated by the wayward behaviour being displayed by these soldiers; it’s evident enough that they have their bosses’ blessings.

Some of the people we trained with were mysteriously replaced and told to go home, which is unfair,” said a supervisor who refused to be named.

The personnel participating in the census are also disgruntled because government has not disclosed to them how much it’s paying them for their services.

It is reported that general enumerators in rural areas will receive about $80 whilst those in urban areas will get $60 a day during the country’s fourth national population census..

“Why are they keeping it a secret, we need to know the amount that we are going to get rather than remain in the dark. What if it turns out that the money is not there?” said an irate teacher awaiting training.

However the Acting Finance Minister, Gorden Moyo, refused to comment on the matter saying he was dealing with technical issues, and referred questions back to Mutasa whom he said was handling the census funds.

“I am dealing with technical issues only and the Zimstats director can assist you on the issue of funds,” said Moyo. It has emerged that the soldiers are disrupting census preparations for financial and political reasons.

Poorly paid soldiers see participation as enumerators as a chance to make extra income, while there are reports that the census is bound to expose Zanu (PF) rigging in the past.

The census is bound to establish actual population figures in voting constituencies, amid strong suspicions that Zanu (PF) has in the past three elections in 2002, 2005 and 2008 inflated figures in areas where it enjoys strong support such as in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe in Mashonaland Central.

Observers say the involvement of the military, police and intelligence is a Zanu (PF) strategy to influence the findings of the census. Efforts to get a comment from the army spokesperson were fruitless as his number was not reachable.

Post published in: News
  1. marimo ronald

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *