Tampering with census process will dent outcome

Source: Tampering with census process will dent outcome – NewsDay Zimbabwe

TRANSPARENCY, legitimacy, truthfulness and credibility are some of the virtues which citizens expect from the government. Lack of all, or any of the above, begets distrust between the government and its citizens.

It is, therefore, disturbing when there are claims that the government is doing the exact opposite when it should be building a binding social contract with its citizens.

This follows reports that ZimStats has hired Zanu PF youths as part of enumerators for the forthcoming national census — a very critical exercise that determines how the national cake will be shared.

We believe the decision will dent the credibility of the whole exercise as it will likely produce a contested outcome.

Census is a critical and sensitive exercise which enables central government to distribute resources and infrastructure development according to the population size in all areas.

In the past, cities such as Bulawayo have complained that their census figures were deliberately understated to deny residents a fair share of the national cake, resulting in underdevelopment.

Fears that the ruling party youths may tamper with census figures ahead of the delimitation exercise as the country heads for the 2023 polls are not without basis given this background.

The last delimitation exercise was held in 2008, with opposition parties querying the outcome, arguing that it exposed deliberate machinations to favour constituencies where the ruling party drew much of its support.

In the past, teachers would conduct the exercise, but reports indicate that the majority of them have been shut out after being perceived as anti-establishment.

Zimbabwe deserves a credible census as the data determines our system of political representation, informs business development and investment, and allocates government funds to where they are most needed.

The census informs decision-making in both the public and private sectors and stands as the benchmark against which public and private surveys are measured.

Given the importance of the census to many public and private stakeholders, ensuring an accurate count and the collection of high-quality data should be government’s top priority.

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