The government yesterday barred soldiers from taking part in the population census following an uproar over the alleged favouring of security forces in the recruitment of enumerators.
Induction workshops organised by Zimstats, which is co-ordinating the exercise that will run between August 18 and 27, failed to take off in Harare yesterday following protests over the involvement of soldiers.
Acting Finance minister Gorden Moyo said the exercise had been postponed by a day to demilitarise the exercise.
“This will be our fourth census since independence and throughout this trajectory, we have had the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture and teachers taking a lead with other government departments participating,” he said.
“We shall not divert on that culture because that has brought credible results. We shall adhere to that ritual.
“That doesn’t mean the army doesn’t have a role to play. They have to protect enumerators and that is their role and another limited role in their own military cantons.”
“The process of counting people of Zimbabwe is the programme that has taken place over the years. We are sticking to that.”
Moyo said President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would officially launch the programme on August 15. He said the joint launch should assure Zimbabweans that the process would be peaceful.
NewsDay is reliably informed that most of the 30 000 enumerators had been drawn from the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Other civil servants had complained that CIO operatives had elbowed out non-Zanu PF supporters from the exercise.
The development had raised fears that the process had been politicised. Enumerators are paid an allowance, making the exercise attractive to civil servants who are poorly paid.