These new statistics became available earlier this month, following last year’s national census.

Vhembe may still be poor, but at least we are getting smarter


The population of the Vhembe region grew by 358,301 people over the past 11 years. Fortunately, the vast majority of them (93.2%) have formal houses to live in. The percentage of residents aged 20 and older with a higher-education qualification has also increased to 9.8%, which is more than the national average of 8.3%.

These are just a few of the interesting facts reflected in the Census 2022 statistics. These new statistics became available earlier this month, following last year’s national census.

The population is growing

The Vhembe region has shown a healthy population growth of 27.5% since 2011, significantly higher than the national growth rate during the same period, which was 17.4%. While the country’s population grew by an average of 1.67% per year, Vhembe’s growth averaged 2.25% per year.

Thulamela remains Vhembe’s most populous municipality, with a growth rate of 27.9% since 2011. According to the latest figures, 575,929 people reside in this municipality. The municipality in Vhembe with the highest growth rate is Collins Chabane, which saw a population increase of 35.1%, totalling 443,798 residents. Musina Municipality increased by 25% to 130,899 residents, while Makhado had a 22.1% growth, reaching 502,397 residents.

Regarding the province, the population grew by 18.3%, reaching 6.57 million.

The 2022 population statistics.

The Limpopo Province is also experiencing an ageing trend. The percentage of residents aged between 0 and 14 dropped from 33.4% in 2011 to 30.9% in 2022. In Vhembe, 31.5% of the population is 14 years or younger, while in Musina, the figure is only 27.5%.

More households, but many more houses

The number of households in Vhembe saw a dramatic increase of 34.8%, which is almost double the national average of 17.7%. The latest figures indicate that 436,959 households were counted in Vhembe last year.

The number of households.

The average number of people per household in Vhembe is 3.6, down from 3.8 in 2011, while the national average is 3.9 people per household.

In terms of percentage increase, Musina performed the best with a 55.2% increase in households. In 2011, 29,590 households were counted, but the latest count puts the figure at 45,934. Makhado Municipality boasts 140,338 households, up from the 107,733 households counted in 2011.

Significantly, most people living in the Vhembe region (93.2%) indicated that they reside in formal dwellings. This is much higher than the national average of 87%, reinforcing the argument that the region does not have a significant problem with squatter camps and a housing shortage.

In the Thulamela Municipality, 96.4% of the population indicated that they live in formal dwellings. The “worst” performer in this category is Musina, where only 90.8% of the people live in formal dwellings. However, this marks a 13% increase from the 77.8% in 2011.

And the lights are on (when Eskom provides power)

In South Africa, 94.3% of residents indicated that they have access to electricity for lighting. In Limpopo, the situation is even better, with 94.9% having access to some form of electricity, and in Vhembe, 95.4% of households are connected to the grid. The Thulamela Municipality can proudly claim that 97.7% of its residents have access to electricity.

The percentage of households connected to the electricity grid.

One area where the Vhembe region does not perform well is in providing water to households. The national average increased from 36.7% in 2011 to 49.4% in 2022, but in Vhembe, it rose from 15.6% to 26.5%. In the Collins Chabane Municipality, only 18.8% of residents have a connected tap at their homes. In Thulamela, 26% of the residents indicated in 2022 that they have access to water at their houses.

The situation regarding households with flushing toilets is also less than ideal in Vhembe. The national average for households is 62%, but in Vhembe, this figure is only 33.2%. The worst-performing municipality in Vhembe in this regard is the Collins Chabane Municipality, where only 19% of households have a flushing toilet.

But the education levels are rising

A welcome statistic is the decline in illiteracy levels. Only 9% of the population (20 years and older) in the country have had no schooling, down from 13% in 2011. In Limpopo, the 2022 figure is 14.2%, while the figure stands at 15.9% in Vhembe.

Regarding Vhembe municipalities, Thulamela stands out as the most “educated”. Only 13.4% of the population aged 20+ had had no schooling in 2022. Unfortunately, Collins Chabane still has a high figure, sitting at 18.6%.

The percentage of people who have a higher-education qualification.

Thulamela also tops the list of Vhembe municipalities regarding people with higher-education qualifications. The 2022 census showed that 13.9% of the population had achieved a post-matric qualification, surpassing the national average of 8.3%. Vhembe’s percentage in this regard is also relatively high, at 9.8%.



Date:27 October 2023

By: Anton van Zyl

Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.

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