The main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party yesterday pointed out flaws in the 2015 Population and Housing Census in a detailed presentation by its Technical Committee to members of the International Community at the Santano House in Freetown.
In his remarks, the chairman of the program, Dr. Abass Bundu said that the country has many political parties but only two are represented in Parliament- (the APC and SLPP), noting that the SLPP’s decision to challenge the Provisional Census result is not for the party but to seek the real interest of citizens in terms of development and advance political agenda for the country since donor partners help is based on the real statistics of a country.
Dr. Bundu said that since they have rejected the result, that is not the end and that will not give room for another extension of the life of Parliament and the Presidency when they expire.
“We are prepared in pushing on with 2018 based on the existing number of seats in Parliament. NEC under Section 33 of our national Constitution is empowered to run the affairs of every election therefore they should make a new list of voters to be registered since the present one ends in December. In 1996, we conducted an election based on Proportional Representation, 2002 District List System these are all options available for NEC to conduct the coming elections,” he said.
Dr. Bundu said that since many calls from the party to Statistics Sierra Leone have failed, they are now calling on the International Community to invite the Technical Team of SSL and that of the party together to do the maths in other to address this burning issue before December which is slated for the announcement of the final results.
In his presentation, Mr. Teddy Williams, a member of the Technical Team said that Census is a process which has steps to follow. He said that the first step is to update the map of the country by ensuring that:
All localities in the country are mapped out;
All new localities emerging during the intercensal period are mapped out
All non-existent localities are deleted from the map;
And all expansions in the localities re added in the map.
Mr. Williams said a quick counting of households is crucial as it helps in the delimitation of enumeration areas as that will determine the number of field staff to be recruited, number of questionnaires, manuals, and field forms to be printed.
Professor Lawrence Kamara said in his presentation that the problems according to their findings started as early as 2013 when Statistics Sierra Leone team deployed in Kenema District was dismissed after carving 422 EAs and with a claim that they were asked to reduce enumeration areas in Kenema District.
Dr Kamara said that the new team that was employed came up with 308 EAs giving a difference of 114 EAs, and out of the 1078 localities only 107 were visited thereby ousting 971.
Dr Kamara said that relevant stakeholders were excluded such as the SLPP team, National Census Advisory Team established in 2002 by theCensus Act of 2002, Competent Sierra Leonean Demographers etc.
Mr. Annup Vyas, Head of Political Section at the British Embassy said that they too and other NGOs had a Technical Team that oversaw the process but noted however that they will ensure that all probing issues relating to the validity of the results are considered.
The Minority Whip in Parliament, Hon. Sidi Tunis said that the entire members of the SLPP Parliamentary group support the party’s findings and condemn the 2015 Provisional Census Report which is inaccurate and totally flawed.