ZAMBIA is currently undertaking the National Census of Population and Housing which is simply an official count or survey of, especially, population.
In fact, Zambia is supposed to undertake the national censuses every after 10 years.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Zambia Statistics Agency (Zamstats) is conducting its sixth Census of Population and Housing which will go on up to next month.
According to the Zamstats, the Census of Population and Housing is the most extensive field operation of all national data collection efforts it undertakes.
Legally, the on-going census is under the Statistics Act number 13 of 2018 which states that the minister may, on the advice of the board, by statutory order, declare that a national census be undertaken in the Republic.
Backed by that legal provision, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane issued a Statutory Instrument to gazette the period August 18, 2022 to
September 14, 2022 as the official dates for the country to undertake the 6th National Census of Population and Housing.
According to Secretary to the Treasury, Felix Nkulukusa, Dr Musokotwane signed the Statutory Instrument number 92 of 2021 which was gazatted on December 31, 2021, to enable Zamstats to conduct the exercise.
Indeed, the law mandates the Zamstats to conduct the Census of Population and Housing every 10 years and the current exercise should have been held in 2020 but was not due to some circumstances including the COVID-19 pandemic.
The on-going census has adopted the Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) technique which involves gathering information with the use of an electronic questionnaire on computer tablets.
This is an improvement on the previous censuses which were paper-based and is meant to introduce cost-effectiveness in the collection and processing of data.
Similarly, this year’s census is the first one to be held under the new legislation governing the sector.
Apart from rechristening the key player from the then Central Statistical Office, to the now Zambia Statistics Agency or Zamstats in short, as the officials would like it to be called instead of the (ZSA), not much is known about the content.
This was evident during some consultative meetings with data users on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which I was privileged to attend.
Right from the preamble, it is obvious that the Statistics Act number 13 of 2018 has introduced sweeping changes in the sector and placed the players within comparable positions, internationally.
Any lawyer will tell you that while the provisions of the preamble to any law may not be justiciable – or not subject to trial in a court of law – they have telling implications on the interpretation of the law as they are its summary.
The preamble states that the Statistics Act is to establish an integrated National Statistical System.
This, in the long-run, should see the sector totally delinked from the government, with full autonomy.
Further, the preamble states that the Act is to provide for mechanisms for coordination, collection, management and dissemination of statistics.
It is to promote the use of statistical data and information at individual, institutional, national and international levels.
As it will be seen, in effecting these mechanisms, the Act takes into consideration the technological advancement which has taken place for many decades.
You would wish to note that hitherto 2018, the law that existed for the sector dated back to 1955, during the colonial rule, and obviously between then and now a lot of changes have taken place.
The preamble further states that the Act provides for the reconstitution of the Central Statistical Office as the Zambia Statistics Agency as already alluded to.
That change is not just in the name but also in the definition of the agency’s functions and the establishment of its board.