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CSOs failed to educate citizens on census: Activist

Civil society organisations (CSOs) let down citizens by failing to educate and prepare them for the ongoing population census, an activist said Wednesday.

Zimbabwe is currently conducting a population census which came underway on April 21 and is expected to end on April 30.

Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) enumerators are visiting homes and institutions across the country to gather data from citizens, with some people claiming they are being asked strange questions as the process unfolds.

Speaking during a Zoom meeting on enhancing women’s capacities to take up political positions, organised by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Prisca Dube who represented the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) said CSOs did not do much to prepare citizens for the kind of questions to expect during the census.

“Some people were coming to my inbox to say, ‘I think P.D some of these questions are so invasive. Why are they asking if there was somebody who was here who is now in the diaspora, what are they doing there, what job are they doing there and all those things,” said Dube.

“It’s because we did not capacitate each other. None of us went to ZIMSTAT to say the nature of the questions that are going to be asked, what are they? Because remember is not merely a part of the numbers that will be shown to say there are so many Zimbabweans that are living in Zimbabwe but during census there are also many other variables besides being counted.”

She said CSOs should have capacitated women in the grassroots, adding most of them found questions being asked by enumerators as shocking.

The questions, Dube said, included the nature of marriages they are in, when they got married; when they had their firstborn children, child spacing and if they have had stillborn and among many others.

“All this information because of the paranoia that we have, we felt as if those were invasive questions,” said Dube.

“Remember, the census is also used to collect data for ZIMSTAT for developmental issues to map demographics to say how many people are employed, how many people have a landline. All that information is part of us making a trajectory as a country.”

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