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Mandela receives S.Africa census counters

Published on 21/10/2011

Nelson Mandela received staff compiling South Africa's census on Thursday in the village of his birth, images broadcast on state television showed.

The 93-year-old former president and anti-apartheid hero met with enumerators from his bed in Qunnu in the southeastern Transkei region.

“He responded very well,” one of the census agents told the SABC3 station. “We were blessed to be with him.”

The census to count and identify South Africa’s estimated 50 million people, which launched on October 9, poses stiff logistical hurdles, as agents must navigate 11 official languages while criss-crossing impoverished shantytowns and fortified suburban homes.

Trevor Manuel, head of the National Planning Commission that is organising the count that runs to October 31, previously said one of the greatest obstacles is the reluctance of many South African to participate.

The last count in 2001 put the population at 44.8 million people, but the national statistics agency Stats SA admits the margin of error was large.

The televised Mandela visit was part of a wider government campaign to promote participation.

Viewers were able to see Mandela himself, smiling and wearing a beige and brown shirt.

Mandela, who served as South Africa’s president from 1994-1999 following the country’s first free vote, retired from public life in 2004.

Increasingly fragile, he is now rarely seen in public, with his last public appearance coming during the South Africa-hosted football World Cup in July 2010.

The last photo publicly released of the Nobel Peace laureate was taken on his birthday in July.