The richest and poorest municipalities in South Africa

 ·19 Jun 2016

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has released a new comfort/deprivation index, assessing 44 municipal and 8 metropolitan districts on standards of living.

The index was launched ahead of the 2016 municipal elections – 3 August 2016 – to give an overview of how municipalities across the country are performing in serving the needs of the people.

One of the key indicators of the index is income levels across the country – where higher income levels signify a more comfortable standard of living, while low income levels indicate more deprived communities.

The index looked at individual monthly income (including social grants) across several income brackets, namely:

  • R1 – R1,600
  • R1,601 – R3,200
  • R3,201 – R6,400
  • R6,401 – R12,800
  • R12,801 – R25,600
  • R25 601 – R51,200
  • R51,201 – R102,400
  • R102,401 – R204,800
  • R204,801+

In every municipality and major metro in South Africa, the largest portion of the population earns between R1 and R1,600, showing widespread poverty across the country.

The figures dip significantly in the metros, which often house the wealthiest individuals in the country.

The poorest municipality was found to be Alfred Nzo in the Eastern Cape where more than 90% of the population earn the lowest amount. On the other side of the spectrum, Johannesburg metro is perhaps unsurprisingly the wealthiest district.

The tables below show the top 15 richest and poorest municipalities in the country.

Due to the significantly low percentages for top earners, the wealthiest municipalities are based on the combined percentages of the people earning over R51,201 per month.

The richest municipalities in SA

# Municipality Town/City Province % earning more than R51,201pm
1 Johannesburg Johannesburg GP 3.6%
2 Tshwane Pretoria GP 2.9%
3 Cape Town Cape Town WC 2.0%
4 Ekurhuleni Germiston GP 1.5%
5 eThekwini Durban KZN 1.2%
6 Cape Winelands Stellenbosch WC 1.1%
6 Eden George WC 1.1%
6 West Rand Randfontein GP 1.1%
9 Buffalo City East London EC 0.9%
9 Mangaung Bloemfontein FS 0.9%
9 Nelson Mandela Bay Port Elizabeth EC 0.9%
12 Gert Sibande Ermelo MP 0.8%
12 Nkangala Middelburg MP 0.8%
12 Sedibeng Vereeniging GP 0.8%
15 uMgungundlovu Pietermaritzburg KZN 0.7%

The poorest municipalities in SA

# Municipality Town/City Province % earning less than R1,600pm
1 Alfred Nzo Mount Ayliff EC 90.2%
2 Amathole East London EC 89.5%
3 UMzinyathi Dundee KZN 89.2%
4 O R Tambo Mthatha EC 88.7%
5 uMkhanyakude Mkuze KZN 88.6%
6 Zululand Ulundi KZN 87.7%
7 Chris Hani Queenstown EC 86.3%
8 Sisonke Ixopo KZN 85.9%
9 Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati Vryburg NW 85.3%
10 Joe Gqabi Barkly East EC 85.1%
11 Vhembe Thohoyandou LP 84.8%
12 Greater Sekhukhune Groblersdal LP 84.1%
13 Mopani Giyani LP 83.5%
14 uThukela Ladysmith KZN 83.4%
15 Thabo Mofutsanyana Phuthaditjhaba FS 81.2%

Looking at the overall Comfort/Deprivation Index, The IRR found that 19 of the 52 municipal districts have an overall deprivation ranking (balance of the comfort and deprivation indices), with Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo municipalities in the Eastern Cape coming out the worst.

On the flip side, 33 municipalities have a net comfort score, showing an overall positive picture for the country.

Notably, metropolitan districts such as City of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Tshwane came out as the most ‘comfortable’, by a large margin.

You can view the full breakdown here: The best and worst places to live in every province in South Africa

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