The voting blocs and issue-based political campaigns are some of the issues that could emerge as Tanzania prepares to conduct a massive census in the country in a decade.
And while real political campaigns are three years away, most political aspirants may look at the contents of the upcoming census as a launchpad. This is because the registration of voters for Tanzania’s 2025 General Election will be based on data collected from this year’s population and housing census to be conducted nationwide on Tuesday, August 23, which is also a designated public holiday.
According to government officials, data on key factors such as age eligibility, citizenship status and specific area residency will be filed for future reference when verifying voters for the next poll in three years’ time.
Tanzania’s first substantive population and housing census in 10 years will seek to verify various unofficial figures. Those figures have variously put the country’s current population at between 55 and 65 million. In 2012, Tanzania reported 44.9 million people.
The upcoming census will be held against the backdrop of UN predictions that have placed Tanzania’s population to be among the world’s eight fastest-growing countries over the next three decades.
The census budget has been set at Tsh328 billion ($141 million).
According to official concept documents, this year’s census will also delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide Tanzanian citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements.
The Director of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Wilson Mahera, told The EastAfrican that the commission intends to use the census statistics obtained to conduct a fresh voter registration exercise ahead of the 2025 poll.
“We see this as the best way to ensure that all the voters are eligible given the kind of problems regarding age, citizenship, residency, etcetera that we have experienced in the past,” Mr Mahera said.
He said that NEC will use the data to identify eligible voters in all areas within each constituency in order to cut down on time for filling application forms and avoid complaints from contestants over alleged cheating and fraud like double voting at different polling stations.
The current voter registration process basically requires eligible voters to be citizens and permanent residents of a respective voting station aged 18 years or above.
The latest census will also include housing and property statistics for the first time. The exercise will be done digitally instead of manually as has been the case in past censuses and all data collected will be electronically stored at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Data clerks will gather information for several days.
The questionnaire to be used in the exercise is composed of about 100 questions related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status, and other details.
According to the concept documents, the findings will also allow relevant authorities to streamline the provision of various social services and facilities according to more accurate estimations of different community, demographical and living environment needs.
This includes destitute and special needs groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities, schools and enrolment numbers, hospitals and fertility rates, individual household economies and access to health care and quality education, water and electricity.
Officials say the census findings will also be used to determine unemployment numbers, crime control requirements by area, and sustainability of existing social security and pension systems.
According to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, the data collected will also aid official updates of land surveys and demarcation boundaries for residential housing, commercial and industrial investments, and agricultural and livestock keeping activities including pastoral grazing land.
It will allow for proper identification of people living in informal settlements, particularly in urban areas, or on public land designated for other social services, the ministry said. Land use planning including plot allocations to local and foreign investors will also made easier to control incessant disputes and conflicts over ownership rights, it added.