By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Zanu PF’s plot to use soldiers in the population census has been exposed with the ministry of Finance moving in quickly yesterday evening to suspend the registration of enumerators.
As reported in the Daily News last week, soldiers and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives had hijacked the census process in a desperate bid to prop up the faction-riddled Zanu PF.
Acting minister of Finance, Gorden Moyo, called an urgent press conference yesterday evening to announce the postponement of registration exercise by a day to clear the swelling issues surrounding the soldiers’ participation in the programme.
“To date the training of national, provincial, district and enumeration area supervisors has been completed. We are now in the stage where enumerators themselves are going to be trained, however the registration of the enumerators at various training centres will have to be postponed by a day,” said Moyo.
He added that, “further details on their requisite qualifications will be provided in due course by my ministry through the Zimbabwe national statistics agency Zimstat.” Government officials involved in the 2012 census preparations said the hastily arranged press briefing was meant to expose the Zanu PF plot.
Moyo, according to the officials is today expected to table the contentious involvement of the soldiers in the 2012 census before Cabinet for final determination. There were reports from around the country’s enumeration centres of hordes of soldiers who turned up seeking to be registered for the lucrative civilian enumeration tasks.
But Moyo clearly stated yesterday evening that the men in uniform’s role in the process should be limited to providing security. “This will be our fourth (census). There were censuses in 1982, 1992, 2002 and the fourth one in 2012.
Throughout this trajectory, we have had the ministry of Education through their teachers taking the lead and other various departments of government participating and we shall not deviate from that culture because the results that have come out of the population censuses over the years have had the credibility and international integrity,” said Moyo while answering questions from journalists.
“Those figures have been used in the country, regionally and internationally and we shall adhere to that ritual. That does not mean that other departments such as the military have no role to play. They have a role to play to protect our enumerators and ensure that there is peace and stability in the country because this is a very critical exercise of the country.”
In addition, Moyo who was flanked by Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Finance William Manungo and Zimstat director general Mutasa Dzinotizei said the men in uniform “have a limited role in as far as enumeration is concerned in their own areas, platoons, barracks, police camps, in those areas they have a role to play. But otherwise the process will follow what has been the case in the past.”
“The security personnel have always had a role in counting themselves, they have always done that in 2002, 1992 and backwards and they will continue to do so,” he added.
The national census which will be used for government planning purposes, provide statistics to national, regional and international organisations and for budgeting purposes will be launched on August 15 in Harare.
Asked what will happen if security forces sought to highjack the programme as has been widely reported around the country, Moyo said, “The launching of this programme by the highest office in the land should be security enough.
If the principals of this government are launching this programme, then we expect everyone to tow the line until this process is completed. We don’t anticipate any deviation, if there is going to be any deviation, it shall be dealt with at that level.”
Following clashes among government employees keen to participate in the lucrative process, the Zimstats office which is in charge of the programme had to abandon a meeting yesterday at Girls High. Since 1980, Zimbabwe has successfully conducted three population counts with the first one having been carried in 1982.
This year’s census is the fourth. The country’s national census is held after every 10 years. The major highlight of the population census for 2012 is that it comes just before the country goes for the much awaited plebiscite. Statistics from the counting will be critical in constituency delimitations.
Zimbabwe will later this year or early next year vote in a referendum for the parliamentary Select Committee draft constitution which was penned by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations. Since 2000, there has been a subtle involvement of soldiers in major events in the country.
Soldiers who are accused of backing Zanu PF’s long stay in power were instrumental in ensuring that President Robert Mugabe remained in power even after losing the first round of elections. But his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai failed to garner a majority triggering a run-off that was characterised by violence which involved soldiers. Daily News
To help maintain editorial independence Nehanda Radio relies on donations from readers like you. No donation is too small or too big. Help by donating to fund our operations.