The right to be counted is a right of no small magnitude. Zimbabwe recently had a Census in which enumerators were sent out to gather information that would determine how many people are in Zimbabwe. However it appears the exercise was not done satisfactorily as recent outcries by Zimbabweans who were not counted during the census days or during the follow up exercise to the count referred to as the “mop up count” indicate.
Despite efforts by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) population census director Washington Mapeta to have a mop up exercise to follow up on those who had not initially been counted as well as extending the counting exercise by another week, inviting members of the public who had not been counted to appear at Zimstat offices in their areas for counting these efforts came at an inopportune time as the initial exercise was fundamentally flawed. Adding to the problems is the report in the Zimbabwean of 6 September which reported that members of the Central Intelligence Organisation barred citizens in Bulawayo from entering the Zimstat offices to be counted.
And so we wonder, why do they not want to count us? Why don’t they want to know exactly how many we are? Why was the process done in such a rush? Do they not understand why the process is so important for citizens? Well, we do know why we must be counted.
We know that the census is the one occasion, once every ten years when each and every one of us gets the opportunity to make our mark by putting on record who we are, giving a comprehensive picture of our social, economic and living conditions. The Census will state where we are, what we do, what we have to offer and what our current situation is. It will inform government planning and decision making in the allocation of resources and development of social service programs for instance determining which communities, schools, hospitals and roads need funding and which ones should be prioritised based on the resident population size and age.
Hence if this census had been done properly public resources would have to be shared evenly across the country. The Census would also have determined the delimitation of constituencies, something that we all know certain sectors of the government do not want to be tampered with because then we would have less rural constituencies than we do now. We also know that if done properly the census would have helped to identify needs in local communities and provided local government with knowledge of local business needs to attract inward investment.
Surely, given that a census facilitates transparency in resource allocation, builds avenues for effective citizen participation and makes government accountable to every individual-it must be a good thing that our dearly beloved inclusive government would want to do right. Well, there we are wrong. They have shown that they do not want to do it right.
Many citizens are crying foul for being left out. As Zimbabweans we have a right to be counted and to express our dissatisfaction with the quality of work that Zimstat has produced at the end of the census. As it stands only a fraction of the population was counted and the enumerators did not do a satisfactory job. The mop up exercise is as futile as trying to reshape sweet potatoes. You will only break them, not fix them. This is a raggedy old mop Zimstat has used. The census must be redone and done right! It is too important to ignore.