THE number of people in Cowdray Park suburb has grown exponentially, surpassing towns such as Gwanda at a time when the population of Bulawayo is almost stagnant, increasing by a mere 12 000 in the past decade.
Cowdray Park (Ward 28) with 75 070 people is the second most populous ward in the country after Harare’s Ward 43 (Budiriro) that has 89 287 people, according to the 2022 Population Census preliminary results released yesterday.
The suburb’s population is bigger than Gwanda which has 27 143 residents and Hwange with 40 241 residents.
This was revealed yesterday in the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency 2022 Population Census preliminary results.
The preliminary results show that Zimbabwe’s population increased by two million in 10 years.
The country’s population increased to 15 million from 13 million that was recorded in 2012 which constitutes a 16 percent increase.
The rate of population growth increased to 1,5 percent from 1,1 in 2022.
Women constitute the majority at 52 percent.
Bulawayo’s population increased to 665 940 from 653 337 in 2012, an increase by 12 603 people.
Zimbabwe was able to release the preliminary census results within a record three-month period following the shift from the manual Paper Assisted Personal Interview (PAPI) to the Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) method.
The 2012 census results were released in 2014.
The country conducts a census at 10-year intervals and the last census was conducted in August 2012 while the latest one was conducted in April this year.
The country has conducted five population surveys since independence.
Census results are important for policy formulation.
The latest results also show that now 61 percent of the country’s population reside in rural areas from 67 percent recorded in the 2012 census.
The country has an average of 3,8 million households with an average household having four people while population density stands at 39 individuals per square kilometer
While presenting the 2022 Population Census preliminary results yesterday, Zimstat director general Taguma Mahonde said the preliminary results provide the size of a population per province, district and ward.
“Information is also provided on annual population growth rates and population density. This publication is the first in a series of subsequent reports on the remaining modules of the 2022 Population and Housing Census,” said Mr Mahonde.
Harare recorded the highest significant population growth as it now sits at 2,4 million from 2,1 million in 2012, Matabeleland North population grew to 827 188 from 749 017 while Matabeleland South the population jumped to 760 345 from 683 893.
In Matabeleland region, although Bulawayo did not increase much, Cowdray Park almost broke the record nationally by the staggering number of people residing there.
Ward 28 councillor Cde Kidwell Mujuru said the just released results are an indicator of the need for more social amenities to be provided in Cowdray Park.
“Cowdray Park is the biggest ward in the city and we are now learning that it is the second biggest ward in the country. Yet services on the ground do not reflect the exponential growth of the ward. We only have two primary schools in the Hlalani Kuhle area and we don’t have a secondary school in that area which is bigger than some suburbs in the city. The city’s crime rate is also worrying as we only have a police base but we definitely need a fully fledged police station to service the total population,” said Cde Mujuru.
He said even emergency services such as Ambulance and Fire Brigade Department are too distant which results in some residents losing lives while waiting to be attended to.
Cde Mujuru said Cowdray Park requires a hospital, but was grateful that Government was building a 60 bed clinic in the suburb.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) secretary for administration Mr Thembelani Dube said Cowdray Park needs to be further subdivided into more wards while being developed into a satellite town for Bulawayo.
“At the moment I don’t think the councillor responsible for that area can adequately cover it. Maybe three to four wards need to be added in Cowdray Park. Because at the moment if resources are divided by the local authority, they cannot adequately cover the ward. That is why it still has areas that have no sewer services while residents are using communal taps. The road network is in bad condition, especially in the Hlalani Kuhle area,” said Mr Dube.
He said Cowdray Park should have shopping malls with banks as it is far from Bulawayo’s city centre.
“Its development should just be done in the manner that Chitungwiza was developed, it can be a town on its own,” he said.
Mr Dube said it is, however, hard to believe that Bulawayo’s population increased by only 12 000 within a decade as the city has been recording an influx.
“It is now difficult to get accommodation for renting and this makes us believe that there are more people who live in the city. Even as you walk in town you are made to believe that more people live in Bulawayo,” said Mr Dube.
Meanwhile, making a presentation during a National Youth Development Trust engagement with young people in Lobengula yesterday, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bulawayo District officer Mrs Sithembiso Khupe said Cowdray Park has the highest number of registered voters.
“Currently, Bulawayo does not have a constituency with 25 000 registered voters. Our minimum is 22 000 and at least we can smile for Cowdray Park because already it is a constituency on its own if we leave out Luveve 15 and 16 which is good for a community. When you are a registered voter you are pulling resources from the Central Bank to yourselves,” said Mrs Khupe.
She said as Government allocates constituency development funds, areas such as Cowdray Park are likely to get more financing due to the high number of registered voters. – Chronicle