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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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They don't exist anymore
August 25, 2012, 7:33 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s one down and two to go in our deeply suspicious Zimbabwe. After very inadequate advertising about what information was being sought and why, our 2012 census got underway. It was met with more than a little suspicion. It had followed a fortnight of mayhem with soldiers demanding they be registered as enumerators, invading workshops, intimidating people and then stopping registration of valid enumerators. Then came almost daily flip flopping by authorities about the training of enumerators, the need for training, the timing of training, the cancellation of training and then the resumption of training. To say that people were confused is an understatement.  Just when we thought the census wasn’t going to happen at all, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara rode in on a white horse. Mutamabara reportedly held marathon meetings with the ministers of Defence, Security and the two co-Home Affairs Ministers to ensure that the census would go ahead. Why such intervention was needed no-one understood but by then the damage had been done and everyone was deeply suspicious about the whole process. As the census began no one really knew who exactly was going to be doing the counting and if we could trust them either in our homes or with the answers we gave to their questions.

Where were you on the night of Friday the 17th was the first  of what most people had thought would be a few basic questions. We should be so lucky! The census official took out a huge red and white A3 form and waded into a myriad of questions. Somewhere near the bottom of the page and by then knowing my name, age, address, where I was born and what my education and occupation was, the census official  looked up. More in statement  than question she said: “ You are a Citizen.”  All the answers I’d given thus far indicated I was and so she seemed a bit taken aback when I replied: “Alien.”  Her eyebrows went up so I said: “ Alien!  Struck off the voters roll because my parents weren’t born here.” There was no time to say more or to say how aggrieved and discriminated against the multiple thousands of born and raised, tax-paying Zimbabweans feel at being struck off and classified as  ‘aliens. ’ The census enumerator didn’t say anything more, just blacked in another mark on the form with her pencil. Thinking it was over I groaned when she turned the form over and I saw the other side was also completely covered with questions.  “I don’t remember so many questions in the 2002 census,” I said. “There weren’t even half this many,” she replied. “I was shocked to see all these questions myself. if I had known, I would never have put my name down to do the job this time,” she said.

Twenty minutes later we were finished. The one question I had hoped would be asked but wasn’t was how many members of my family had been living in Zimbabwe in 2002 but now lived in the diaspora. The number of Zimbabweans who left for the diaspora in the last twelve years is thought to be three or four million but on the basis of the 2012 census questions being asked in ordinary homes last week, it seems they don’t exist anymore.

Thirty one thousand enumerators were engaged to count an estimated population of 14 million people. Each enumerator had to count approximately 466 people in the ten days allocated for the census. The cost of the census was estimated to be a staggering 37 million US dollars which works out at about US$ 2.60 per person!  What a performance just to count us, we dread to think of the inevitable turmoil looming with the constitutional referendum  (if it even happens) and then an election. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



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