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Zanu PF ‘hijacks’ 2022 census

Local News
A delimitation exercise — redrawing of electoral constituencies — will be conducted based on the census figures.

BY PRIVILEDGE GUMBODETE/PROBLEM MASAU ZANU PF youths have allegedly been hired as enumerators for the forthcoming national census, raising fears that the party may tamper with census figures ahead of the delimitation exercise as the country heads to the 2023 polls.

A delimitation exercise — redrawing of electoral constituencies — will be conducted based on the census figures.

The last delimitation exercise was held in 2008, with opposition parties querying the outcome, arguing it exposed glaring gerrymandering in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.

Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency spokesperson Mercy Chidemo confirmed that 20% of the enumerators were drawn from unemployed youths, with the Public Service Commission (PSC) co-ordinators conducting the recruitment.

“I can confirm that we hired unemployed youths drawn from the enumeration areas,” she said.

“The majority are civil servants and there is only a small number reserved for youths, who are also below 35 years, that are computer literate and are able to communicate properly. Ministries have been submitting their lists to PSC for vetting.”

Teachers’ unions, which have been all along used as census and polling agents, alleged that Zanu PF had hijacked the census enumeration exercise.

In the previous census exercises, government engaged civil servants for enumeration purposes due to the nature of the exercise, which involves a certain level of literacy.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said it was disturbing that professionals like teachers were being left out in such exercises.

“One can only surmise that these are Zanu PF youth militias and those they want to reward for beating people during elections,” he said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure told NewsDay that their members were told that they would not be hired.

“There are teachers who have been participating in this process, but they were told that they were going to be replaced by people from the youth assembly of the Zanu PF party and some members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” he said.

Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive officer added: “If there are any plans to exclude members of the teaching fraternity from conducting the census, we then can’t rule out ‘isms’ such as favouritism, nepotism and unjustifiable exclusivist preponderances.”

Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapera Zhou said: “A census is a delicate programme and a premise for national planning and human development, which has to be based on accurate statistics. The deliberate choice to use poorly qualified personnel in place of teachers is a clear indication of the value attached to the whole process.”

Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, however, rubbished allegations that the ruling party had hijacked the census and electoral processes.

“Zanu PF was not advised about how the national census was going to be carried out. People just worry, and they are so obsessed with Zanu PF,” he told NewsDay.

“I don’t know what the problem is. We are the ruling party, and we are the party-government. We cannot be part of those irregularities as alleged by your sources.”

In a recent post-Cabinet media briefing, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced that youths would be engaged as enumerators following a Cabinet resolution.

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