Vice President Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal has appealed to Islamic clerics to educate and sensitise their followers on the need for the citizenry to participate in the national population census lined up for late next month.
In remarks at the launch an orientation seminar for sheikhs organised by Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata), he said the relevant authorities were through with all preparations for the big day – August 26.
“As we wait for the population census, Muslims must understand that the exercise is an issue of phenomenal importance as far as our country’s social and economic development is concerned,” said Dr Bilal.
“I take this opportunity to ask you, religious leaders present here today as well as across the country, to ensure that you encourage you followers to take part in this very important activity,” he added.
The VP explained that said, contrary to some people’s mistaken beliefs, the census was for every Tanzanian because it sought to facilitate the implementation of development plans that would benefit Tanzanians in their tens of millions without discrimination.
He noted that taking part in the census had no bearing to one’s colour, religion, tribe, place of origin or even, as even foreigners would be covered.
Dr Bilal extended special thanks to those religious leaders across Tanzania who had come to appreciate the importance of the population census, asking them to mobilise their followers to follow suit.
He said he understood that the clerics’ readiness resulted from the realisation of the fact that “the census is of great relevance and importance in everyday lives of all Tanzanian and all people residing in the country”.
“In our religion (Islam), there are many stories told about the importance of the population census. I sincerely believe that you, sheikhs, know these stories and the morals or lessons they have for humankind,” he noted, adding: “Time is ripe for you to open your books and take your followers through various verses related to the activity for the benefit of our various communities and the nation at large.”
The VP also implored religious leaders, their followers and the citizenry generally to observe the rule of law by steering clear of criminal behaviour and practices “which will naturally lead to decongestion in the country’s prisons and make the country spend less on prisoners and other inmates”.
Chief Sheikh Issa bin Shaaban Simba meanwhile said the orientation seminar was part of a new procedure meant “to evaluate the headway made in addressing or otherwise attending to various development matters of concern to Muslims”.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda recently appealed to the public to cooperate with population census clerks by freely furnishing them with information relating to the activity.
He made the call when opening a national training for population census instructors, noting that there was no way a country could know real development without having relevant updated statistics on its population and demographic dynamics.
“We expect the activity to run smoothly, as we are fully prepared. But above all, people’s positive response is of high significance. With relevant and adequate statistics, our development plans will be achieved satisfactorily,” he added.
The PM also appealed to politicians, religious leaders and government functionaries at all levels to educate the citizenry on the importance of census to national development.
He said that those leaders commanded great respect in society and would help immensely at the public in mobilisation and sensitisation stage.
Bakwata has long declared that its followers would take full part in the upcoming census, with Mufti Simba saying the participation of Muslims “is important not only as stipulated by the laws of the land but also because it is a vital factor in the country’s development”.
According to some sources, the total population in Tanzania was last reported at 43.2 million people in 2010 from 10.1 million in 1960. It is also estimated that the country has 0.63 per cent of the world’s total population, suggesting that one person in every 160 people on earth is a resident of Tanzania.