The South African Cities Network has released its latest State of South African Cities report.
- About one in five people in some of the country’s biggest cities – including Johannesburg and Cape Town – live in informal housing, the report found.
- Of the nine municipalities under the microscope, Nelson Mandela Bay had the smallest percentage of people in informal housing – 6.1% of its 1.2 million residents.
About one in five people in some of the country’s biggest cities – including Johannesburg and Cape Town – live in informal housing, according to the 2021 State of South African Cities report released by the South African Cities Network (SACN).
The report took a closer look the nine largest municipalities in South Africa.
It also found that in Cape Town and Johannesburg, nearly half (45%) of residents lived on less than R1 300 a month in 2016. In terms of food security, Cape Town came off worst, with about one in four residents having adequate access to food in 2018.
In other municipalities, numerous residents were even further below the breadline. In Mangaung 36.6% of people lived on less than R714 per month, while in Ekurhuleni 35.9% of people lived on less than R992 per month.
But urban populations are still growing. The population of Johannesburg grew by just under 30% since 2011, and housing remains a challenge. In the City of Johannesburg, 21.7% of its 5.7 million residents lived in informal settlements by 2018 – down only marginally from 22.8% in 2015.
Of the nine municipalities under the microscope, Nelson Mandela Bay had the smallest percentage of people in informal housing – 6.1% of its 1.2 million residents.
But it also had the highest level of unemployment at 35.7% in 2020.
In Msunduzi, which includes Pietermaritzburg, around a fifth of residents live in informal housing at 20.9%. In the City of Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, 19.9% of its 3.8 million residents lived in informal settlements by 2018; in Cape Town, Western Cape, this applied to 19.3% of its 4.5 million residents.
The report also found that in the City of Tshwane, 16.8% of its about 3.6 million residents lived in informal housing by 2018, followed by Mangaung (11.7%) and the City of Ethekwini (13%).
Tshwane was the most food secure, with 91.3% of its residents reporting adequate access to food.
Nosipho Hlatshwayo, executive manager: programmes for the SACN, told Fin24 the findings of the report show that government cannot be the sole custodian of urban development in South Africa. Partnerships with the private sector, and participation of all spheres of government will be needed, Hlatshwayo said.
She flagged ongoing joblessness as the biggest crisis. All the cities showed an increase in unemployment between 2016 and 2020, except for Cape Town and Ekurhuleni.
The study found that in 2020, Nelson Mandela Bay had the highest level of joblessness, namely 35.7%; followed by Msunduzi (34.2%), Johannesburg (32.6%), Mangaung (32.5%), Ekurhuleni (32.3%), Buffalo City (29.7%), Tshwane (29.1%), Cape Town (22.5%) and Ethekwini (22%).
The important role played by the informal sector is reflected in its contribution of 22% to employment in Buffalo City, the report highlights. In Johannesburg the informal sector contributes 21% of employment, followed by 18% in both Nelson Mandela Bay and Mangaung, 14% in Ethekwini, 13% in Ekurhuleni, 12% in Cape Town and 10% in Tshwane. No data is available for Msunduzi.
Residents of Cape Town seem to live the longest – on 65.6 years in 2020. In Johannesburg, Tswhane and Ekurhuleni your life expectancy is 63.7 years, while it is 59.6 years in Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City. Ethekwini and Msunduzi come in at 57.1%, while the life expectancy in Mangaung is the lowest at 54.5%.
Nelson Mandela Bay is the municipality studied with the largest percentage of its population – 21.6% – receiving social grants (including older person’s grants), followed by Buffalo City (20%), Mangaung (19%) and Ethekwini (14.6%), Tshwane (9.7%), Cape Town (9.3%), Ekurhuleni (8.1%) and Johannesburg (5.9%). No data is available for Msunduzi.
As for environmental problems, the report found issues relating to waste removal and littering to be a big problem for many residents – for 68.2% of the residents of Mangaung, Buffalo City (48.4%), for 46.8% of residents in Johannesburg and Ethekwini, and for 42% of residents in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Problems with land degradation is a challenge for 52% of residents of Mangaung and for 27.3% of residents in Tshwane.