ZIMSTAT boss in nasty spat with Bulawayo PMD over census cash

BULAWAYO – An unlikely row has erupted between Bulawayo’s provincial medical director and the director general of the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency over the payment of allowances for enumerators who conducted the 2022 national census.

An estimated 30,000 people, mainly civil servants, were drafted for the 10-day exercise in April.

There were also an estimated 7,000 supervisors, and Dr Maphios Siamushembu led one of the teams.

Dr Siamushembu on June 25 took up the matter of the delayed payments with Zimstat director general Taguma Mahonde – leading to a spicy exchange that generated more heat than answers.

ZimLive was shown the leaked exchange, which appeared to have taken place in a WhatsApp group with other users.

Here is how it went down:

Maphios Siamuchembu: Where is our enumeration money?

Dumisani Ndlovu: This was some kind of slavery!!!!

Maphios Siamuchembu: People are asking for their enumeration money. What do I say to them?

Taguma Mahonde: You are not entitled to answer them as they entered into a contract with ZIMSTAT. They should approach ZIMSTAT. Thank you.

Maphios Siamuchembu: Director General Sir, I entered into the same contract and have the same question. You are ZIMSTAT, right? Could you please answer me then? When am I getting my enumeration allowances?

Taguma Mahonde: Yes, but don’t pretend to represent some people.

Taguma Mahonde: I don’t know when you will get them.

Maphios Siamuchembu: Sir, I was co-ordinating and supervising a district on your behalf. I forwarded messages from people who were under my supervision. They do not have the same access to ZIMSTAT as I do. They are not wrong to ask their supervisor, and I believe I am not wrong to ask you on their behalf.

Taguma Mahonde: They have access in that they know ZIMSTAT offices in every district. So please don’t worry about them.

Maphios Siamuchembu: Clearly you speak from a point of privileged ignorance. It is sad that ZIMSTAT is led by someone with such an attitude. You would have not lost my respect had you just explained the problem and pointed out that you do not know when the money is coming. The attitude of “don’t worry about them” is unfortunate in a leader of such an organisation.

Taguma Mahonde: I can only explain something to people of honour who do not approach me pretending to be representing a constituency. I don’t need respect from people who pretend to be what they are not.

Maphios Siamuchembu: Dear DG Sir, I am not pretending anything that I am not. I asked you because I was asked. I was asked in my capacity as a district co-ordinator for your exercise in April.

I am a medical practitioner, a specialist surgeon, and a provincial medical director. I was in the census exercise at the request of your organisation, and as a service to my country. I did not apply to be a Level 1 supervisor or a coordinator. I did not, still do not, need the stress, dishonesty and peanuts of ZIMSTAT as a means of a living.

So, please do not insult me. I do not appreciate it. I am only talking to you because I care about the people I led during the exercise. I care about humans for being humans. As their leader, I owe them answers. I will not tolerate insults, from you or from anyone.

Taguma Mahonde: You were a coordinator and not representing anyone, let’s get that right. And so, let’s act accordingly. So, you are perfectly entitled to ask about your allowance and not about other people’s allowances. Thank you.

Maphios Siamuchembu: This kind of selfishness is why our country is a mess at many levels. I can’t just think about myself. For me, life is better when I and the people I lead are happy. I am concerned about their welfare. Sorry, you will not recruit into that selfish kind of leadership style. I am not like that.

It is not only the enumerators who have not been paid but suppliers too.

One said: “They hired my dad’s car for the census exercise but up to now he hasn’t been paid and that money is losing value everyday. He is a pensioner afterall, who won’t even afford to repair his vehicle.”

ZIMSTAT blames treasury delays for the late payments.

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