Friday, 6 May 2011

Figuring things out

A belated Happy Easter. It is often very difficult in Zambia to get official statistics and so very often estimates are the only things you have to go on so it is good now and again to get some official and approved figures.

According to the Times of Zambia the population of Zambia has increased from 9,885,771 in 2000 to 13,046,508 according to the 2010 Census. 61 per cent (7,978,274) live in rural areas while 39 per cent (5,068,234) live in urban areas. 6,394,455, representing 49 per cent of the total population, were male while 6,652,053 (51 per cent) were female.

Lusaka Province had the largest population with 2,198,996 people, followed by the Copperbelt with 1,958,623, Northern Province with 1,759,600, Eastern Province at 1,707,731 and Southern Province which had 1,606,793 people. The region with the least population was North-Western Province with 706,462 while Western Province had 881,524 and Luapula Province at 958,976 people.

The census results showed that there were 6,069,753 eligible voters - people aged 18 years and above - representing 47 per cent of the total Zambian population.

Zambia now has 2,635,590 households of which 1,607,267 are rural areas while 1,028,323 are in urban centres. According to the Ministry of Finance, 700000 people are in formal employment. The labour force numbers around three million giving an unemployment rate of 77%

The Central Statistic Office states that 67% of the nation lives below the poverty datum line with 46% living in abject poverty.

It is not only in Britain that there has been a recent interest in elections. Although the Zambian elections due to be held later in the coming year and have not yet been called, campaigning by the ruling party and opposition carries on apace.

We had a Presidential election in 2008 following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa. Rupiah Banda (MMD) was elected on 40.09% Michael Sata (PF) gained 38.13% and Hachilema Haakainde (UPND) 19.4% and Godfrey Miyanda (Heritage) 0.8%. The presidential elections are FPTP as well though it has been suggested in the new constitution that the French system of 50%+1 should be adopted.

A bone of contention is that the Government has threatened to arrest anyone undertaking 'parallel voting tabulation' (PVT) as it is considered illegal. According to the Government only the Electoral Commission of Zambia may publish election results. However PVT can be a useful monitoring tool for ensuring free and fair elections, so this is likely to be challenged in the courts.

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