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Mopping Up In Zimbabwe

By  Cathy Buckle


Unbelievably, census mayhem continues in Zimbabwe a fortnight after the conclusion of the 2012 population count. Ten days after they said they’d finished counting us in the2012 census, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) said they were about to embark on another mop-up operation. The original census took place from the 17th to the 27th August and Zimstat hailed it as a big success.

Here and there came a few rumblings from people who said they hadn’t been counted and the next we heard was that a ‘mop-up’ operation was underway. Three days later the Census Director, Washington Mapeta said the mop- up operation had been concluded. “ I think it has gone well to cover others who might have been missed and it ends today,” said Mapeta. That took us to the 30th August but all was not well.

Aside from the usual, predictable complaints that there wasn’t enough money to pay the enumerators, whispers started growing louder that everyone in the country had still not been counted. In the first few days of September there were reports coming in from Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mhondoro, Lupane ­ all saying that people from a number of areas hadn’t been counted. A former MP in Lupane East told an independent radio station that 108 homesteads in his area hadn’t been counted and no one knew why they had been left out.

By then eyebrows were really raised. Was it really possible that 30,000 enumerators hadn’t been able to count the population in ten days? Each enumerator only had to count approximately four hundred people which, over ten days meant an average of forty people a day; not a lot when an average household could be expected to have five or six people resident.

The wheels really came off when the Deputy Minister of Justice, Obert Gutu, said his household in Harare hadn’t been counted. The MDC MP said he lived in a Close in Harare which had seven houses in it and none of them had been counted by census enumerators. The Deputy Minister said he felt aggrieved, marginalized and discriminated against and was considering taking legal action against Zimstat.

The Zimstat Census Director told everyone who hadn’t been counted in the Census to either contact enumerators in their areas or visit Zimstat offices so that they could be counted. An independent newspaper reported that when people who hadn’t been counted tried to visit the Zimstat offices in Bulawayo they were turned away. It turns out that the Zimstat offices in Bulawayo are in the same building as the CIO. One man said he was denied entry by security guards who said the building was a security threat. (Yes, the building was a threat, not the visitor!)

Then a second ‘mop-up’ operation was announced. The Zimstat Director said they were checking reports and enumerators would be redeployed to areas where people said they hadn’t been counted. Those people would have to now try and remember where they were on a night over three weeks ago. One local weekly newspaper said that the Zimstat Director launched into a tirade when he was asked about payment irregularities saying that journalists were hell bent on trying to discredit the 2012 cenus. Whew, we thought Zimstat had done a pretty good job of that all by themselves!

And lastly, just to put the record straight, there were 11.6 million Zimbabweans counted in the 2002 census, not the 14 million that are being quoted in recent ZBC news bulletins. As much as it might suit their propaganda to say there were 14 million people in Zimbabwe ten years ago, there actually were not.

Until next time, thanks for reading,

love cathy

8th September 2012. Copyright Cathy Buckle.

For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact



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