Friends of Machinga Trust Friday forced the National Statistical Office (NSO) to carry out a verification exercise on the recruitment of enumerators which it claimed was characterized by corrupt practices and recruitment of people outside the district.
Friends of Machinga Trust wrote the NSO expressing dissatisfaction with the recruitment that took place recently in the district alleging that the census body also registered public servants.
In a letter signed by the trust’s Chair, Grey Mphiti, it asked the NSO to submit a list of all successful candidates who attended the interviews in Machinga to enable them carry out verification exercise on their own.
The trust claimed to have received a lot of complaints and reports of malpractices alleging corrupt practices that led to recruitment of people outside Machinga. The recruitment irregularities were mostly recorded in Traditional Authorities (TAs) Sitola, Chamba, Mposa, Mlomba and Chiwalo.
“We can’t allow people outside Machinga to participate in the exercise when the youth in Machinga are being denied that opportunity,” Mphiti said.
The trust and NSO agreed to do a joint verification on Wednesday at Puteya Secondary School where the already interviewed young people from Chamba and Mposa met to be vetted by the trust.
During the verification exercise, Village heads from Chamba and Mposa and Mposa Ward Councilor, Cydreck Sitande did the verification as district supervisors made a roll call of successful enumerators.
The verification exercise at Puteya only flushed out public servants such as Teachers, Health Surveillance Assistants (HSA) and Agricultural Extension staff apart from a few young people that were thought to be from outside Machinga.
“This is a bit tricky because village heads and a ward councilor cannot know each and every person in their respective areas,” Misheck Kapiye from Nsanama area who felt the process could flush out legitimate people in the name of justice pointed out.
At Nsanama only one village head was present as the verification was done by the youth themselves who were able to identify their fellow youth as bona fide candidates for the enumeration in the 2018 Population and Housing Census (PHC).
At the end of the verification exercise Friends of Machinga Trust Chair said the verification was a success because it cleared the mist of mistrust and allegations surrounding the recruitment exercise.
Mphiti commended the NSO for being cooperative and responding to the wishes of Friends of Machinga Trust on its request to verify list of enumerators.
NSO Public Relations Officer (PRO), Kingsley Manda said the NSO carried the recruitment of enumerators with the involvement of local leaders that included ward councilors and that it was not true that there were any cases of recruitment irregularities as other quarters alleged.
A person from nearest places to demographic enumeration area, holder of a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) with credits in English and Mathematics, a person possessing national ID and bank account was eligible to attend written and oral interviews, according to PRO.
Manda added that people who were recruited as enumerators were supposed to fulfill the requirements considering that they would be expected to use modern technology equipment, adding that NSO carried out successful recruitment exercises in Machinga and other parts of the country by involving local governance structures.
“NSO carried out sensitization meeting in 16 traditional authorities in Machinga from 25 to 28 July and recruitment of enumerators was discussed during the meetings,” he added.
Machinga is expected to engage 142 field supervisors and 712 enumerators during the 20 days period of the head count.
Population and Housing Censuses are conducted every 10 years and the recent census was held in 2008 while the first was held during the British colonial days in 1966.
The 2018 PHC will be conducted from September 3 to 23, 2018 under the theme: ‘Be Counted, Leave No One Behind.’