Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Muslim Clerics Call for New Census Team

A SECTION of Muslims has asked the government to form an independent commission before August 2012 that will oversee the population and housing census.

Various Islamic leaders said the commission should consist of representatives from all religions including atheists to take part in the organization, gathering and presentation of the 2012 population statistics. The leaders were addressing Muslims in Dar es Salaam yesterday on the state of the nation including recent protests in Zanzibar and drafting of a new constitution.

According to the Secretary of the Council of Islamic Organizations in Tanzania, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, failure to form an independent commission will make Muslims in the country lose faith in the exercise and fail to participate."If the government does not take an action by June 20, this year, Muslims all over the country will not participate in the August population and housing census," he said.

He said the current commission consists of more Christians, making Muslims not to believe that the census would be free and fair. Sheikh Ponda said that an independent commission should be tasked with establishing the exact population of Muslims, Christians and atheists in the country.

According to the cleric, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will be competent to manage the exercise of population and housing census since it is made up of many Christians and few Muslims.

On the recent events in Zanzibar, the leader of the religious propagation group, Uamsho, Sheikh Abdallah Said Ali called the formation of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the cause of the protests for legal action.

"A commission of inquiry drawing government officials, Muslim clerics and members of Uamsho should be formed to investigate causes behind the protests," he said, adding that the incident involved a religious organization, which is very likely to breach peace and harmony. He said if the issue is not handled well by the state it could spark similar protests nation-wide.

In another development, Muslim clerics have planned a nation-wide demonstration to pressurize the Executive Secretary of the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA), Dr Joyce Ndalichako and her team to resign.Sheikh Ramadhan Sanze said the council always publicizes poor results of Islamic seminaries, a trend that shows that the institution is discriminatory towards Islamic schools.

"We need her and her team to step down," he said, noting that they want a more competent team at the helm of the council.

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