News24

Zimbabwe census begins despite attack

2012-08-18 20:56

Harare - Zimbabwe's 10-yearly national population census was launched on Saturday, a few days after thousands of soldiers threatened to take over the lucrative task by force.

A spokesperson for the state-run Zimbabwe Statistics office told local radio that the 30 000 enumerators were now in place and that operations were getting "off the ground slowly".

The census had been in danger of being cancelled last week after thousands of soldiers around the country stormed centres where enumerators - mostly teachers - had gathered for the final session of their three-month training.

The soldiers drove the teachers out and demanded that they take over the counting, for which enumerators are paid $90 a day. It was the second major incident of mutiny in the country's 35 000-strong army in four years.

During the economic crisis in 2008, troops looted shops in Harare's city centre.

The attack on census enumerators ended when President Robert Mugabe issued orders to the army's commanders.

The census is Zimbabwe's fourth since independence in 1980. The last one, carried out in 2002, put the population at about 12 million.

But the country's central bank in 2008 estimated that the national population had since dropped by 3 million as a result of Zimbabweans fleeing the country in search of better economic conditions in South Africa or Britain.