The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) has reportedly hired ZANU PF youths as enumerators for the forthcoming national population census.
This has raised concerned citizens’ fears that the census figures may be doctored ahead of the delimitation exercise as the country heads to the 2023 general elections.
A delimitation exercise, that is, the redrawing of electoral constituencies, will be conducted based on the census figures, and this may give room to gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is the manipulation of the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favour one party over others.
ZimStats spokesperson Mercy Chidemo confirmed that 20% of the enumerators were drawn from unemployed youths. She said:
I can confirm that we hired unemployed youths drawn from the enumeration areas.
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, among them Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Teachers Union, and Educators Union of Zimbabwe, alleged that ZANU PF had hijacked the census enumeration exercise.
In previous censuses, teachers have been recruited as enumerators but this year, PSC said teachers who were on strike in February will not be considered for the exercise.
ZANU PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu dismissed the allegations, saying there are some people who are “obsessed” with the ruling party. Mpofu told NewsDay:
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.
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.
This is in spite of the fact that during a recent post-Cabinet media briefing, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced that youths would be engaged as enumerators following a Cabinet resolution.