By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, April 15, 2016 – BULAWAYO mayor Martin Moyo has attributed lack of investment in the country’s second largest city to Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat) census figures which he says portray a shrinking population in the city.
According to the results of the August 2012 population census released by ZimStat, Bulawayo’s population stands at 653,337 down from the official 676,000 that came out of the 2002 enumeration exercise.
However, addressing journalists at the Bulawayo press club, Moyo said the figures released by ZimStat were not a true reflection of the city’s population.
He said that the figure had started to have a negative bearing on the city’s investment opportunities, adding that when it comes to resource allocation, areas with more people get a higher allocation from central government.
“We are not satisfied about these census figures. Yes, we have other people who have gone to South Africa but that would not make the number drop to 653, 337,” Moyo said.
“The problem with these figures is that they repel investment. Also when it comes to allocation of resources by the government, wrong figures have a negative impact on how much is disbursed to us. The bigger the population, the bigger the national cake and reverse is true,” he added.
Asked what could be the exact number of the city’s population, Moyo said it was well above a million based on housing units and the average occupancy.
The city has 147 000 housing units, according to Moyo.
“With these figures, say each house accommodates five people, then it means the city has about 735 000 people. We have about 100 000 people who are on the waiting list. Perhaps in Bulawayo, we must start paying up residents to have more children like what was done in Italy,” Moyo said to laughter from the journalists.
The city’s top administrator accused ZimStat of deliberately understating the number of people living in the city in a calculated ploy to ensure that central government underfunds the municipality.
In 2014, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) called the city council to invest in its own census for the purposes of developmental planning in the wake of the release of 2012 national census results.
Of all the country’s 10 provinces, Bulawayo had the least number of people, while Harare was said to have the highest number of inhabitants.
The census showed Harare with the highest population of 2,123, 132 followed by Manicaland with 1,752,698, Midlands with 1,614,941 and Mashonaland West fourth with 1,501,656 people. Masvingo (1,485,090), Mashonaland East (1,344,955) and Mashonaland Central (1,152,520) followed closely behind.
The census is conducted after every 10 years for national planning purposes.