Census in jeopardy

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Image by ZimStat Twitter

BY PROBLEM MASAU
THE national 2022 population and housing census which begins tomorrow faces a rocky start after reports emerged that the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) failed to pay allowances to enumerators following a two-week training programme.

A total of 40 000 enumerators and 7 000 supervisors underwent training over the past fortnight for the exercise which will run until April 30.

Frustrated enumerators yesterday told NewsDay that they have not been paid the allowances, adding that many of them did not have money to travel to their bases.

They also said they used their own money during training with the hope that they would be paid soon after.

“We finished training two weeks ago and they promised to deposit the money within three days. They have not been forthcoming,” an enumerator said.

The allowances were pegged in United States dollars, but will be paid in local currency at the current auction rate.

ZimStats spokesperson Mercy Chidemo yesterday confirmed that the enumerators had not yet received their allowances but blamed the delay on the Easter holiday.

“The money was transferred, but there were delays in payments because the banks were closed during the holidays. If they check their accounts by the end of today, the money should be reflecting,” Chidemo said.

Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou accused ZimStats of dishonesty, saying the payments should have been made a week ago.

“ZimStats cannot blame Easter holidays for delays in paying its enumerators because those holidays did not suddenly appear last week. It is either poor planning on the part of ZimStats or it is taking a lackadaisical approach to the agreed terms of the contract between itself and its workforce, mostly dominated by teachers. We demand that ZimStats immediately adhere to agreed terms of contract because these enumerators should have been paid long before the same holidays,” Zhou said.

Educationist Tafadzwa Munodawafa said: “For a long time now, the government has been fostering a system where civil servants are expected to perform national duties for free and no one wants to take responsibility and show seriousness in matters of such national processes with such big
impact.”

He said ZimStats should not put an important process like the national census in jeopardy by abusing teachers and other civil servants seconded to perform its duties.

“We implore ZimStats to act sincerely and responsibly on behalf of the nation of Zimbabwe.”

Preparations for the 2022 national census have been riddled with several other problems.

A total of 221 enumerators were forced to travel an estimated 380km in search of accommodation for training after failing to secure accommodation in Karoi district.

Some trainees from Kariba rural under Chiefs Mola, Negande and Musambakaruma, among others, had to travel to Chinhoyi for boarding facilities for the training — a distance of about 380km.

Zanu PF youths have also allegedly been hired as enumerators for the census, raising fears that the party may tamper with figures ahead of the delimitation exercise as the country heads to the 2023 polls.

Government recently announced that 20% of the enumerators will be youths while 80% will be civil servants, including members of the police force and army.

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