Zimbabwe’s pre-election census on hold
Zimbabwe has halted preparations for a crucial pre-election census after riot police and soldiers loyal to ageing president Robert Mugabe drove away thousands of teachers queueing to be trained as census takers.
Armed police told trainees in the cities of Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare that they were holding “illegal gatherings” and ordered them to disperse, reports said yesterday. In some cases soldiers demanded that they be hired instead.
The census was due on 17-18 August, when 30,000 census takers were to knock on every door in Zimbabwe. Data gathered was to be used for the delimitation of constituencies ahead of elections next year that would end Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government.
“Training at [census] centres was disrupted as early as 8am” local radio reported on Wednesday.
The not-for-profit Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association warned that Zimbabwe was “degenerating into an outpost of lawlessness” after plainclothes officers stopped trainees.
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