The census

27 08 2012

It has been 10 years since the last  national census. They are still using teachers on holiday to get the statistics. The form they use has changed though. For the last census it was small and green, this year it is large and red. Like the last census I was impressed by the attitude of the official. He was on my doorstep yesterday morning at 7 a.m – no mean feat considering I live 5 km out of town and he would have had to walk the last 1.5 km from the tar road. He was also prepared for my response to “What ethnic group are you?”.

“African – I was born here, in Harare”.

“But where were your parents from?”

“The UK”.

“So you are European”.

This is actually more of an issue than most people might think. Despite having a Zimbabwean passport I am not considered “indigenous” the definition of which is (or was the last time I heard): anyone born in Zimbabwe after independence in April 1980 OR anyone born in the country before that date who by nature of their race was discriminated against. Yes, Rhodesia as Zimbabwe was then had racially biased laws. We thought that had all finished 32 years ago. Now not being indigenous has a number of disadvantages not least of which is the Indigenization Act under which those non-indigenous persons must cede at least 51% of their company’s shares to indigenous share holders within a year. The first time this was tabled limits were set on the value of companies so that those worth less than $50,000 were exempt. Now the limit for most companies has been set at $1. There are a few exceptions; arts companies have a lower limit of $500,000. Art is not a great way to make a living these days and I cannot think of any that have assets worth that amount. I can only assume that arts companies are not desirable!  Quite what this will do to foreign investment is not clear though it cannot be very attractive.

It is also not clear what will happen to the information gleaned from the census exercise and how much of the statistics will filter back to the general public. I can think that more than a few people will be interested to see how many Chinese are estimated to be in the country. I have heard a figure of about 30,000 which would make them the second biggest population group. I assume that they will not be classified indigenous!

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