By Alois Vinga
THE 2022 census kicked off on a shambolic note Thursday, with the enumeration process marred by shortage of equipment, poor communication patterns and discontent among enumerators who threatened to boycott the exercise over non- payment of allowances.
A visit to a number of ZIMSTAT centres across the capital unearthed deep seated confusion and poor organisation of the process, with several enumerators still to obtain IDs and uniforms on the day of commencement.
By 10am, several enumerators at a centre in the Glen View were still stranded, with no one to address them in the obtaining situation.
“We do not know how to proceed and up to now we are yet to be addressed by the officials running the process. Most of us have not yet received uniforms and IDs. The situation is just confusing,” said one enumerator on condition of anonymity.
Highly placed sources within the statistics agency reported critical shortages of data capturing gadgets, prompting some provinces to instruct enumerators to go back home as they were disabled to collect the information amid reports that the equipment was yet to be allocated.
“We were let down by the shortage of tablets so enumerators are few on the ground. The gadgets have since arrived and are currently being provisioned at the head office. But truth be told we were ill prepared for this census,” one ZIMSTAT insider said.
A number of the enumerators who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com raised serious complaints over the non- payment of their allowances with some threatening to hold on to the gadgets as well as downing tools if payments are not processed any time soon.
“I have been part of this exercise for almost ten days. Initially we were promised to receive the first batch of our allowances after the first five days but up to now, we have not received a penny. What hurts the most is that communication pertaining to such issues is just poor.
“As a result some enumerators are mulling to hold on to the gadgets or down tools over the non-payment of allowances. ZIMSTAT must just be sensitive to the fact that we need to buy food as we conduct the exercise and continued delays in payments will demotivate the enumerators,” one anonymous enumerator said.
Some enumerators also complained about ZimStat’s decision to cut their allowances from US$78 per day to US$47.
Contacted for comment over the allegations, ZIMSTAT spokesperson, Mercy Chidemo dismissed the equipment shortages allegations.
“No, we were well prepared and our enumeration started as planned at midnight. The cut back we have experienced on enumerators was just from those officials who were enumerating floating population from midnight till morning needing to rest as well.
“We also have enumerators who were employed as buffers. So for any eventuality they step in otherwise it is not because of any challenge,” she said.
Quizzed on why allowances have not been processed as promised, Chidemo did not avail further details.