Kampala- After being deferred twice, the overdue Population and Housing Census finally kicked off yesterday with the First Family’s household being among the first to be enumerated.
The executive director of Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), Mr Ben Mungyereza, enumerated President Museveni and his wife, Janet at Nakasero State lodge in Kampala. According to Mr Mungyereza, the enumeration with the President took 45minutes.
Speaking after the enumeration, Mr Mungyereza said: “The atmosphere was cordial and so was the enumeration. He (the President) answered all the questions well and he was very candid.”
When asked why the enumeration took 45 minutes instead of an average of half an hour, he said: “There were questions that I needed to explain further, probably that explains why it took all that time.”
Swipe at journalists
In a light moment, President Museveni told journalists covering his enumeration that his family is now small because he was “abandoned” by his children. Mr Museveni’s children are all married and staying on their own.
“This is all (pointing at him and his wife Janet), we have. We have been abandoned. If you want the children, you will get them in their households, homes (family),” Mr Museveni said.
However, not all has gone according to the plan as the national census coordinator, Mr Francis Mashate, had told journalists in a news conference earlier. Enumeration across the country did not start at the anticipated time—between 6-7am.
In some parts of Kampala, especially in Makindye, Kawempe and Nakawa divisions, the exercise started after 9am. The same case was reported in some parts of Masaka, Lyantonde, Arua and Mbarara.
The delay was mainly attributed to late delivery of enumeration materials. “The exercise did not kick off at the expected time (6am) due to delay in delivery of materials like pens, rubbers, and chalk,” Mr Deusdedit Arinaitwe, an enumerator in Muwafu Zone, Namuwonge, told Daily Monitor.
Mr Arinaitwe said he started enumerating slightly after 9am and now fears that he may not able to beat his enumeration deadline. Enumerators are expected to count at least 15 households in a day.
The counting exercise had not started by the time our reporter reached the place at midday, leaving most households anxious.
“We have not seen any enumerator around, and we have not even heard of anyone who has been counted in our neighbourhood,” Ms Okissa Anyire, a resident in Namwungo said. The case was no different in Project zone in Wabigalo Parish in Kampala.
In response, Mr Mungyereza said despite the challenges, there have been no major hitches that could badly derail the exercise.
“Being the first day, we expected some challenges but as we proceed, all will be well. We are determined to succeed and we will do all we can to see this exercise successfully,” the Ubos boss said. According to the statistics body, street children, patients in the hospitals, travellers and people in the hotels have already been enumerated.
In Masaka, the enumeration exercise generally began late. In villages such as Kimaanya, Gayaza, Kyabakuza and Mwalo, the census started at about 10.30am instead of the anticipated 8am. The delays were attributed to late coming by some enumerators to pick their working materials.
Religious leaders such as the Bishop of Masaka Diocese, John Baptist Kaggwa and the Bishop of West Buganda Diocese Godfrey Makumbi called for honesty and frankness among their faithful while answering the enumerators’ questions.
District Kadhi Swaibu Ndugga said the government should give religious leaders the results of the census so that they too can plan their work.
In Lyantonde District, there were similar delays in a few areas according to Muhammad Mwesigwa, the district population census officer. He said the exercise began with the enumeration of lunatics and those in transit through the town.
In Jinja, Ms Ritah Mwona, the census supervisor for Mafubira Sub-county, said the exercise started well although some residents were not cooperative. Ms Mwona said some hotel and lodge managers denied enumerators access to their premises.
18 people arrested for boycotting census
Police in Bulambuli District are holding 18 people for allegedly shunning the National Population and Housing Census which started yesterday.
According to police, the suspects belong to a religious cult referred to as triple 666 or Engiri that forbids its followers from participating in activities they describe as earthly.
Ms Diana Nandawula, the Elgon region police spokesperson, said they arrested a section of leaders belonging to the sect after receiving intelligence information that they were planning to flee to Kenya. “We have arrested a group of the triple 666 religious cult for allegedly sabotaging government programmes.
They will be taken to court to answer charges of sabotage,” Ms Nandawula said.
She said the cult is also against national identity card registration, hospital treatment, immunisation and education, adding that the operation is still ongoing to target more suspects.
In Manafwa District, about 500 other cult members have reportedly escaped to neighbouring Kenya for fear of being arrested for shunning the exercise. Mr Joseph Weyusya, the census spokesperson, said the believers escaped at night and their homes were found deserted on Wednesday morning.
In Tororo District, the exercise kicked off smoothly with a low turn up in urban centres. The district census officer, Mr Francis Orono, said the exercise started as early as 7am, except at Malaba border where it began at midnight to capture information on travellers before they left the country