The Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) yesterday announced that its followers will fully participate in the forthcoming national population census.
Speaking to reporters yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the Mufti, Chief Sheikh Issa bin Shaaban bin Simba said participation of Muslims in the forthcoming census is important not only as defined by the law of the land, but also for the country’s development.
However, he said the council has advised the government to endorse regulations that would recognize authorities entitled to release census information.
“In our country, we have taken part in this exercise for quite a long time now. Majority of us accepted the exercise because it didn’t include either our religion or our tribes,” the Chief Sheikh said.
He added that since then he has been receiving endless calls from various believers asking for the council’s stand on the national census.
“As the Chief Sheikh, I urge all Muslims to fully take part in this important national event,” he said, adding: “All the believers have the onus to ask the government on the religious statistics issued in the internet.”
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, there were rumours that clerics were sensitising followers to boycott the national census slated for August this year.
If the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which is supervising the census, does not include a clause on the counting of people on the basis of their religious denominations, Muslim clerics and their followers would boycott the census.
Muslims were dissatisfied by the non mandated statistics issued recently by non credible sources in the internet on the country’s population.
When tabling the 2012/13 Prime Minister’s Office’s budget yesterday Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the census exercise has been given priority in this year’s financial budget.
Pinda stressed that members of the public were being sensitised to take part in the exercise.
“We are also training clerics to help in counting people and supervising the census in some areas. Other activities on the ground include transporting of census materials,” he said.
He called on all leaders to work together in mobilising and supervising the exercise.
He assured the public that all reports/information which will be collected during the exercise will be treated as confidential and used only for statistical purposes.
Early this month Bakwata backed Amir of Shura of Imams Sheikh Mussa Yusufu Kundecha and 30 other sheikhs who were sensitising Muslim belivers to boycott the national census.
In their statement released to the media, the leaders insisted that the omission of the issue of religion would lead members of the public to continuously use the current internet data which are incorrect.
They said already there were data in the internet, which are widely quoted in references to the country’s population versus their religious affiliations, pointing out that “these data are incorrect, it is better to come up with reliable ones,” noted Sheikh Kundecha.
For his part, NBS Executive Director Dr Albina Chuwa was quoted as saying that the component of tribe and religion would not feature in the forthcoming census, because the government does not use them when planning for development. espite the explanation, Muslim leaders have continued to censure the bureau for allowing the use of wrong data which on the internet, showing the varying statistics of religious believers in the country.
Dr Chuwa later issued a statement saying NBS does not recognise the disseminated data relating to statistics about Muslims, Christians and other religions denominations.