DEMOGRAPHICS
 
The reconciled total population of the Mopani District Municipality has increased from 1 068 569 (Stats SA CS 2007) to 1 092 507 (Stats SA Census 2011). The population for each municipality within Mopani District is presented in Table 6. Out of the entire district population, 81% reside in rural areas, 14% in urban areas and 5% stay on farms. The population densities vary from municipality to another, but the average is 23 people/ ha. It shows that people are sparsely populated with sufficient land around them. The problem of land shortage for economic development is perpetrated by the vast land occupied for dwelling purposes, leaving much little for economic growth. A move towards reduction of stands sizes may need due consideration. Portion of Kruger National park is mainly occupied by animals with very few people employed.
 
The population size differs from one municipality to another and in terms of resource allocations it should be best to consider this distribution earnestly, albeit with all factors taken into account, e.g. service backlogs, poverty stricken areas, identified growth areas, etc
 
POPULATION NUMBERS BY GENDER
 
In every Local municipality, except for the Ba-Phalaborwa (including Kruger National Park (KNP)) the trend of men: women ratio is the same. With KNP the reverse is true, i.e. men: women is about 63%: 27%. That implies that Management of KNP need to focus on employment equity with emphasis on gender. Ba-Phalaborwa and Greater Giyani need to make joint effort to the matter. A diagrammatical summary of population growth by gender is provided below. The average ratio male to female in Mopani District Municipality as a whole is 46% to 54% and the tendencies and trends are still prevalent. The age and gender structure is by and large influenced by levels of fertility, mortality and migration. These factors are also influenced by socio-economic circumstances such as education, level of affluence (income) and location. The tendencies revealed by the structure in Table 8, are as follows: In almost all local municipalities there are more females than males.
 
This is most significant in Greater Giyani and Greater Letaba municipalities which are primarily rural/ non-urban in nature. The scenario could be attributed to low levels of education and affluence in these municipalities, exacerbated by men seeking jobs elsewhere. Ba- Phalaborwa has comparable balance in numbers between females and males, however with more males than females at working age categories. That is ascribed to young men employed in the mining sector at Phalaborwa and Gravelotte mines and young women not ready for dirty and hard jobs. The Kruger National Park also has more males than females and that could be attributed to more men ready for field rangers’ jobs than women, with the ratio men: women being 63%: 27%. That implies that KNP need to put more focus on employment equity with emphasis on gender balance.
 
The other dimension is that the current highest population number exists in the age category 15 - 19 years whereas in the previous years the highest was in the category 10 – 14 years. These are school-going people who need support for them to be employable in the economic sectors. There is also proportional balance between boys and girls from age zero to 20. It will be important to consider males and females equally in issues of development in this category.
 
Ages 20 and above show females out-numbering males significantly. Further analysis of the demographics indicates that 49,4% of the residents are still at a young age (0-19 years). Population numbers decrease with age increase, i.e. the older generation is less than the young one. This implies that programmes geared at developing all people with special emphasis to women and youth will impact much to Mopani DM. The same is true for taking heed of challenges facing these population categories.
 
It is also notable that population size of Mopani has grown steadily by 3% since the year 2000 to 2011, with absolute pick up in 2005 when Maruleng and part of KNP got incorporated into Mopani. Redetermination of municipal boundaries in 2008 has not made significant change in this trend since it affected only nature conservation area, Kruger Park. High population growth itself is a threat to the economic growth in terms of scarcity of prime land space. Since the main source of population growth is birth rate and emigration, programmes geared at combating children pregnancies, women empowerment and those dealing with illegal emigration should be strengthened. As per the Census 2011, the overall population size of Mopani District stands at 1 092 507.
 
POPULATION MOVEMENTS (IN-MIGRATION AND OUT-MIGRATION)
 
According to STATSSA data, it is noted that rural areas continue to be highly populated, regardless of low economic activities. The clear picture of these trends is found in Greater Giyani and Maruleng municipalities. Possible factors to these trends could be attributed to (1) the warmth of cultural values that are respected in rural areas, (2) low land cost rural areas, (3) increasing levels of affluence (in mobility) among Black South Africans, (4) improved provision of basic services in rural areas and (5) keeping families together (increased level of choices).
 
The African culture of “fixed home” add to growing rural areas in that, even when people could get jobs elsewhere they would usually prefer to retain their home at rural areas, where they grow their children. The arguments levelled above pose a need for emphasis on rural development, to have services provided where people want to stay. That also tests the choice for growth points in a municipality (Ref. Spatial Analysis by Akanya with IPM, 2011).

 

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