Residents from Bulawayo’s Eastern suburbs have requested organisations in Bulawayo to conduct a shadow census process to determine the actual number of people living in the city for planning purposes.
Speaking at a Habakkuk Trust advocacy training workshop, residents alluded to the highly contested census results compiled by Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat) in 2012 which claimed that Bulawayo population stood at 655,675 down from 676,650 in 2002. At that time, the Bulawayo City Council accused ZIMSTAT of deliberately understating the city’s population size to ensure that the Central Government under funds the local authority. In 2015 the local authority then compiled its own population figures based on its housing units where they estimated that the City’s population was 1,124,368.
The City Council’s housing waiting list currently stands at 115,000 and most commentators have argued that it does not make sense for the city to have such a huge housing waiting list when its population size according to the government is far less than a million.
Participants at the training highlighted the need for organisations and residents in Bulawayo to embark on an exercise that will present a true reflection of the city’s population size to enable effective planning and evaluation of development programmes.
Other issues identified at the training include resuscitation of play centres and youth recreational facilities which play a pivotal role in reducing substance abuse. Concerns were also raised on the dumping of litter in undesignated points, electricity challenges, poor road networks and increase in crime aided by poor street lighting.
The training sought to build a critical mass of community advocates so that they advocate on issues affecting development in their communities.