The census is expected to clear the confusion caused by the conflicting figures currently being used by different agencies.There have been distortions in the population figures following the flight of Zimbabweans to such countries as South Africa, the United Kingdom, Botswana, United States, Australia, New Zealand, among others.
In an announcement, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) said the mapping and listing of households ahead of the census would begin this month and continue for the next two years.
“Zimbabwe’s fourth population census will be conducted in August 2012,” said the CSO in its announcement.
Previous censuses were held in 1982, 1992 and 2002. To kickstart the process for this year’s enumeration, the CSO said it would visit households across the country and map them.
“This exercise involves visiting all households in the country and mapping them into groups of between 80 and 100 households,” added the CSO.
“Maps are then drawn to show where each group of households resides. These maps are drawn in such a way that they do not overlap with each other and they are confined within each existing ward. The mapping exercise is a pre-enumeration activity that is expected to last about two years”
Although the census is meant to enumerate only those people still leaving in the country, it is also expected to give an idea on the number of Zimbabweans who have left the country over the last ten years. It is currently estimated that between three and four million Zimbabweans are currently in exile, but the government and civil society have not done much to involve them in national processes. This has raised concerns among rights groups who believe those in the Diaspora should also be allowed to take part in national processes like elections, the constitution making process, and the development of government policies.
An international organisation of exiled Zimbabweans, the Zimbabwe Council, has started a new initiative to involve the Diaspora in national processes.
Zimbabwe Council founder Dominic Muntanga said their immediate focus was to gather input and feedback on the Draft Migration Management and Diaspora Policy of Zimbabwe, currently being developed by the government.
“As part of this process, the Council for Zimbabwe will compile people’s responses on the Draft Migration Management and Diaspora Policy for inclusion in the said policy document before it is presented to the Council of Ministers and Cabinet for consideration, and use your views about our work to help inform our programs, which are focused on harnessing the skills and resources of the Diaspora to enhance development in Zimbabwe,” said Muntanga.
According to Muntanga, views gathered through the process “will help influence government thinking on issues facing the Diaspora”.
“It is important that we (exiled Zimbabweans) speak with a collective and strong voice on issues of concern to all of us, no matter how small,” said Muntanga