Population Growth and Development in South Africa



DATE: 24 August 2005


Prince N E Zulu (IFP) to ask the Deputy President:

(1) Whether the population expansion outstrips economic growth and perpetuates unemployment in South Africa; if so,

(2) whether the Government has introduced any measures to control the population expansion; if not, why not; if so, what measures;

(3) whether the Government has made enough incentives available to encourage the population to move from urban to rural areas; if so, what are the relevant details; if not,

(4) whether she will make a statement on the matter?



Honourable member, our economy is now growing faster than our population. According to the 2001 Census the population of South Africa stood at 44.8 million people in 2001 compared to 40.5 million in 1996.

The population has thus grown by 10% over the five-year period. This reflects an average population growth rate of 2% per annum.

On average, per capita growth was negative in the decade before 1994. Since then, the economy has grown at an average rate of 2.94% per annum.

While the population growth rate does not perpetuate unemployment, the number of new people entering the labour market contributes to the level of unemployment in South Africa.

With regards population development, the government has a number of programmes in place to support women and men with regard to their reproductive choices. Among these are the Family Planning Programme which provides for counselling; a range of choices of family planning methods such as contraceptives; access to legal termination of pregnancy and sterilization under specific conditions; as well as education on sexuality and healthy lifestyles. These services are provided free at primary health care level.

While the government does not have a programme to encourage people to move from the urban to the rural areas, it does have programmes in place to improve the lives of people living in rural areas. One of these programmes is the ISRDP (the integrated sustainable rural development
programme). The vision of the ISRDP is to attain socially cohesive and stable communities with viable institutions, sustainable economies and universal access to social amenities, able to attract skilled and knowledgeable people, equipped to contribute to their own and the nation's growth and development.


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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa