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Zimbabwe census figures 'questionable'

by Staff reporter
02 Feb 2024 at 04:58hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S population figures may be distorted because thousands of births and deaths of primarily children under five years, go unrecorded mainly in rural areas due to a lack of information and civil registration facilities, NewsDay has learnt.

Traditional burial practices, sometimes conducted without official notification, further contribute to the underreporting of the deaths, while many births go unrecorded.

A NewsDay probe has revealed that under-reporting of births and deaths amid limited access to healthcare facilities, poverty and lack of awareness, paint an incomplete picture of mortality rates, which could be distorting the country's overall population figures.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), 78 384 deaths constituting 64,7% were registered, while 30,3% were unregistered during the April 2022 Population and Housing census carried.

ZimStat demography and social statistics director, Aluwisio Mukavhi acknowledged the possible distorted population figures due to unregistered deaths.

"We recorded so many unregistered deaths during the census period; however we could not state the reasons when we collected the data," Mukavhia said when contacted for comment.

"For the statistics you can contact our department as I am currently out of office."

According to the 2022 census, Zimbabwe has a population of 15 178 979 citizens.

Opposition Chipinge South Member of Parliament (MP), Clifford Hlatshwayo expressed concern that many deaths in remote rural area go unregistered.

"People only register their deaths if there is a family member who needs to get an identity document or birth certificate," Hlatshwayo said.

"This mainly occurs if its children who have died. In most cases, people in rural areas do not register deaths.

"Some do not register due to lack of information and the procedure. So, it's a habit that is almost everywhere, particularly in rural areas and this is very worrisome."

Heal Zimbabwe Trust advocacy officer Tapiwanashe Chiriga said: "Then there are bodies that are transported illegally without using the proper channels."

He said the major reason was lack of access to the Registrar General's office.

"The government must ensure that birth and death registration offices are brought closer to each ward or at the very least a constituency having a permanent centre responsible for this," he said.

"Knowledge of the law is also important. The notification and registration of every death and birth in Zimbabwe is compulsory in terms of Section 10 of the Birth and Deaths Registration Act."

The Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Affairs ministry has previously said Zimbabwe, like many countries in Africa, has no well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems.

According to the Zimbabwe Constitution [Amendment 20] Act 2013, every person has a right to be registered and acquire civil registration documents.

Source - newsday