Urban Poverty and Population Movement

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Thembi Nkadimeng, recently addressed the issue of urban poverty in South Africa, emphasizing the growing challenges posed by population migration. She made these remarks during a media briefing at the African National Congress’s (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Boksburg. In her capacity as the chair of the ANC’s Subcommittee on Legislature and Governance, Nkadimeng expressed concerns about the increasing signs of urban poverty and the strain it places on government projections and budgets.


  1. Migration Exceeds Expectations: Nkadimeng highlighted that population migration had exceeded the government’s projections and budgets. Recent data from the 2022 Census revealed that over 2 million people living in South Africa were not born in the country, with approximately 400,000 individuals relocating to Gauteng over the past decade. This significant influx of people into urban centers and metros has strained the government’s capacity to meet its housing and service delivery targets based on past planning.
  2. Urban Poverty on the Rise: Contrary to earlier assessments, the extent of urban poverty has grown considerably. Nkadimeng pointed out that in the City of Johannesburg, there is a notable increase in signs of urban poverty. This observation underscores the need for a reevaluation of urban planning strategies to address the changing demographics and socio-economic dynamics within the cities. As migration patterns shift, South Africa’s cities are facing new and unprecedented challenges.
  3. ANC’s Perspective: Despite the ongoing service delivery challenges and the growing issue of urban poverty, the ANC maintains that South Africa has made significant progress. The 2022 Census played a crucial role in assessing the country’s demographics, gathering economic and social data over time. Nkadimeng echoed the ANC’s stance that although difficulties persist, the quality of life has improved since 1994. While municipalities may struggle with administrative and governance issues, they have made strides in ensuring service delivery, even in rural areas where basic amenities like refuse collection were previously lacking.
  4. The Need for Adaptation: Nkadimeng’s remarks emphasize the importance of adapting government policies and strategies to the changing landscape of South Africa’s cities. The data from the 2022 Census underscores the necessity for a more flexible and responsive approach to urban planning. As cities continue to attract a diverse and growing population, the government must align its efforts with the evolving needs of the people, particularly in addressing the challenges of urban poverty.
  5. Balancing Resources: The challenge for South Africa’s government lies in balancing the allocation of resources to address the immediate needs of both existing and incoming populations. It requires a delicate equilibrium between urban development, housing, and service delivery. To effectively combat urban poverty, the government needs to adopt an integrated approach that takes into account the complexities of urban migration, social inequalities, and resource allocation.


Minister Thembi Nkadimeng’s concerns about urban poverty and population migration in South Africa highlight the need for a reevaluation of government policies and strategies. As the country faces the challenge of accommodating an increasingly diverse urban population, it becomes crucial to adapt to changing demographics and socio-economic dynamics. While South Africa has come a long way since 1994, addressing the growing signs of urban poverty is essential for ensuring that the benefits of development reach all its citizens. Nkadimeng’s call for a different approach to urban planning should serve as a catalyst for action, prompting the government to develop innovative solutions that can effectively address the evolving challenges of urbanization.

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