On a number of occasions, the City of Cape Town has claimed that it has the highest population growth rate of any South African city. This is an important contention because it is used to explain away a range of governance issues from service delivery to housing to conflicts over land distribution. It is important, therefore, to verify whether this is actually true. By JARED SACKS.
Following the eviction by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit on land in Philippi East dubbed ‘Marikana’ by residents, the City obtained an interdict (now being challenged) preventing the rebuilding of ‘homes’ destroyed by the City. This was followed with a response to the interdict by Mayco for Human Settlements, Tandeka Gqada, justifying their actions as necessary since they attribute the housing challenge to the assertion that “The City of Cape Town has the highest urbanisation rate in the country”.
Once again, on 4 February this year, in a meeting between the City, the Provincial government and various community groups, Mayor Patricia de Lille claimed in a speech that “Cape Town is the fastest growing city in South Africa, with the population of the city having grown by 45% over the last 15 years.” She claimed vast improvements for service delivery in the City despite this rapid growth in population.
In other instances, politicians and officials from the City of Cape Town have also claimed that the City has an extremely high or even “massive” population growth when compared to other cities (presumably in other parts of Africa or the Global South). This often-repeated assertion by City officials is made without citing any relevant statistics.