Sunday, May 10, 2015

(HERALD ZW) Zim Immigrants: Three million from 1,6 million

I'm the one who dug up this well buried number - buried in Table 3.6 of the 2011 Population Census of South Africa, run by Statistics South Africa - it is on this page and has been for about 3 years, ever since the 2011 Population Census was published in 2012. Why this number was buried in percentages of the population rather than just listed outright - the total number of immigrants in South Africa is kind of important. Having said, it is great that it was picked up, so we can have a fact based discussion about Zimbabwe, not based on charges, denouncements and sloganeering. - MrK

(HERALD ZW) Zim Immigrants: Three million from 1,6 million

When figures simply won’t help

Talking about the Diaspora factor, I had an amazingly honest discussion with one of the leading editors in the country. We touched on many issues, covered many themes, and I found his views disarmingly fair, balanced and penetrating. I could not resist asking: but pal, how come this level of critical thinking is never brought to bear in your column and paper? Well, my friend, when you sit down to write, you are structured by multiple relationships, relationships which end up shaping your pieces.

If I tackle a matter with this level of candour, will I secure access to those vital briefings that equip me as a journalist? Will I? Ahh pal, I protested further, including acknowledging that with a total immigrant population of 1,6 million (courtesy of SA Stats), South Africa cannot have three million Zimbabwean immigrants? That in fact the largest community of migrants is Mozambican? Yes, he cried in response, adding that figure can no longer be revised. It has become a “fact” by usage, one too important to be revised at this late stage in the whole narrative!

We both sipped down our despair, despair that took the colour of that dank British liquid they call tea.

The spiral of compounded lies

When one of the Nkomos stood up and out to remind frenzied protesters that the late Father Zimbabwe was Sotho, not Kalanga, a bitter debate ensued over that monumental disclosure. On the one side was a group that was so grateful the young man had gotten them to know their hero and founder of their nation even better, albeit after so long. Then you had this other side which was decidedly angry.

Why make a correction which has the effect of denying all those opposed to the “regime” a key missile with which to pelt it? I have no doubt in my mind that this same latter group will wonder why South Africa Stats Office published a detail which has the effect of blunting a key weapon against the “regime”.

To oppose is to hurl anything at the establishment, especially lies which must be protected, nurtured and grown to remain durable weaponry.

Presenting reality in proper proportion is a sin; to falsely compound a lie a thousand times is a virtue. It could be about unemployment, migrants, victims of gukurahundi, beneficiaries of land reforms, or simply people’s identities.

That is us: a people who won’t allow unhelpful, inconvenient facts to stand in the way. When facts are coy and reluctant, fictionalise them.


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