The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Population Nears 13 Million

ZIMBABWE'S population continues to rise at an annual growth rate of 1,1 percent and rose from 11,6 million in 2002 to nearly 13 million this year, according to preliminary results of the 2012 population census released by Zimstat yesterday.

The slow growth rate is a direct result of the lower birth rates first seen in the 2002 census with fertility rates close to replacement levels.

On census night, August 18, there were 12 973 808 people in Zimbabwe, with 6 234 931 males and 6 738 877 females.

During the last national census in 2002, the country had 5,6 million males and six million females.

Zimstat board chairman Mr Douglas Hoto yesterday said Zimbabwe's new sex ratio of 93 males to every 100 females was down on the 2002 figure of 95 males for every 100.

"The 2012 population constituted 3 076 222 households, leading to an average of 4,2 persons per household. With an area of 390 757 square kilometres, Zimbabwe has a population density of 33 persons per square kilometre."

The household average of 4,2 people though implies strongly that birth rates have not risen noticeably since the 2002 census, suggesting that Zimbabwe is now headed for a period of slow growth and a fairly early attainment of stead state population.

Mr Hoto said final results would be released between March and October next year.

"These are provisional results as detailed results will be published in a series of subsequent reports after completion of data processing and further analysis," he said.

"It usually takes a year after holding the census to come up with a final national report."

As always, the most populous province is Harare with 16 percent of the total population or just over two million people.

This includes the City of Harare, Municipality of Chitungwiza and the Ruwa and Epworth local boards.

But there is a significant rural grouping living in the Chitungwiza corridor.

"Harare has a population of 2 098 199 people followed by Manicaland which has 1 755 000 people and Midlands with 1 622 476 people," he said.

The provinces are followed by Masvingo with 1 486 604, Mashonaland West 1 449 938, Mashonaland East 1 337 059 and Mashonaland Central 1 139 940.

The three western provinces have a total of just over 2,08 million with Matabeleland North on 743 871, Bulawayo 655 675 and Matabeleland South 685 046.

Bulawayo's population actually declined and the other two provinces showed low growth.

Mr Hoto said Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West had the highest growth rates of 1,7 percent.

Commenting on the census figures, a population expert with UNFPA Mr Piason Mlambo, said the preliminary results showed that at the national level, females still constituted about 52 percent of the total population in August 2012 as was the case in 2002.

"However, some notable changes are observed especially within the predominantly urban provinces of Bulawayo where females now constitute 54 percent of the total population compared to 52 percent in 2002; and Harare where females constitute 52 percent in 2012 up from 50 percent in 2002," he said.

Mr Mlambo said the results were consistent with Zimstat projections.

"The inter-censal population growth rate which has remained the same at 1.1 percent per annum between 1992 and 2002; and 2002 and 2012 is also consistent with the decline in total fertility rate and the contraceptive prevalence rate which has remained largely the same around 60 percent in the last 10 years.

"There is however, need to do further analysis to explain the emerging picture and this can only be done after the release of the detailed provincial and national reports in the latter part of 2013."

Mr Hoto said outstanding allowances to enumerators would be paid when Treasury availed the funds to Zimstat.

"We understand we owe them about US$15 million," he said.

"We are in constant touch with Treasury but we do not have the actual dates when they will be paid. It might be at the end of this year or early next year because Treasury was seized with the payment of annual bonuses to civil servants."

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