Northern KZN tapping into growth

A Development and Planning Commission has been launched for the Umkhanyakude District Municipality in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal.

- Advertisement -

 It aims to serve as a platform from which stakeholders can contribute towards the region’s development, including that of agriculture and tourism. “The idea is to create a common purpose vehicle to bring stakeholders to the table. We will involve specialists in tourism, environmental management and agriculture and work on the upliftment of the district,” said Sipho Mathobela, Umkhanyakude District Municipality’s head of planning, social and economic development, who is overseeing the establishment of the committee.

The municipality has advertised for nominations and expects the commission to be functional by August. The district municipality, which is composed of Umhlabuyalinga, Jozini, Big 5 False Bay, Hlabisa and Mtubatuba local municipalities, extends from the uMfolozi River to the Mozambique border and is bordered in the east by the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park. The municipality covers approximately 1 191km2 with Hluhluwe as a semi-urban area and Matubatuba as an established town.

Unemployment, poverty and a lack of basic service delivery are the hallmarks of the area which has one of the highest infrastructure backlogs in South Africa. “Management of the family of municipalities has decided to turn this situation around. The family of districts will work together towards common goals,” said Jeffrey Vilane, mayor of the Umkhanyakude District Municipality.

- Advertisement -

Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, said alignment and integration was important to realising Umkhanyakude’s potential. Zaloumis said that it was disappointing to see unspent funds being returned year after year by local government. “While tourism growth has been significant across the district, the development of the regions’ agriculture potential has not happened,” he said.

Zaloumis said iSimangaliso and the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) – which encompasses north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, eastern Swaziland and southern Mozambique – had created the building blocks for the development of Umkhanyakude, through the rolling back of malaria, the upgrade of roads, and the upgrade of and opening of border posts.