‘Ward with men only?’: Outrage over new Matabeleland population census figures


Preliminary results of the 2022 census that were released on Tuesday are causing a stir on social media after they showed that the three Matabeleland provinces have the lowest population in Zimbabwe.

The results of the April census by the Zimbabwe National Statics Agency (Zimstat) revealed that the country’s population had grown by 16.2 percent between 2012 and 2022, but it was almost stagnant in Bulawayo and the other two Matabeleland provinces.

Bulawayo’s population grew to 665 940 from the 655 675, a measly growth of 10 265.

The country’s second largest city has the least number of people in the country while the capital Harare has by far the largest population at 2 427 209.

Matabeleland South is the province with the second  least number of people in Zimbabwe at 760 345 after Bulawayo  followed by Matabeleland North at 827 626 people.

The Zimstat figures raised a furore on social media with some people from Matabeleland on Twitter saying the population  was being deliberately understated to perpetuate the region’s marginalisation.

Prominent human rights lawyer Sipho Malunga raised questions about a ward in Matobo district in Matabeleland South where Zimstat figures showed that there were no women living there.

“What a nonsensical census! There are no women in Ward 20 in Matobo District,” Malunga tweeted.

“It’s clear that this census is part of a grander scheme of manipulation of information for political purposes in Zimbabwe.

“If it was on paper I don’t want to say what I wld do with it…but you can guess”

He later tweeted: “The explanation which I welcome is that this Ward 20 is a grazing area and therefore only herdmen are found there.

“This unfortunately does not in any way allay my concerns/critique about this politicized census.”

Nothiwani Dlodlo, a Matabeleland based activist tweeted: “Unbelievable that from 2012- 2022 Bulawayo province has population growth of 10000 below are 2012 census results for Bulawayo

“We should have a recount of Bulawayo population, umangoye uyasola.”

The census figures are used by central government to allocate resources to provinces and by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to draw ward and constituency boundaries.

Zimbabwe’s population by province

Harare – 2,427,209

Manicaland – 2,037,762

Mashonaland West – 1,893,578

Midlands – 1,811,908

Mashonaland East – 1,731,181

Masvingo – 1,638,539

Mashonaland Central – 1,384,891

Matabeleland North – 827,626

Matabeleland South – 760,345

Bulawayo – 665,940

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