Named in honour of slain freedom fighter Chris Hani, who was born in Intsika Yethu, the predominantly rural Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) includes eight local municipalities as well as one district management area (DMA), the Mountain Zebra Park. Queenstown is the chief town and administrative centre. The Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) is a landlocked district stretching across the northern portion of the province, bordered by the Northern Cape and by the Eastern Cape districts of Cacadu, Amatole, Ukhahlamba and OR Tambo. Chris Hani, one of the four ISRDP nodes in the Province, includes the former administrative areas of Transkei, Ciskei and Cape Provincial areas. The natural environment similarly ranges from semi-arid Karoo in the west to moist upland and mountain grassland in the east. The District extends over 36,963.82km2 and has a population of around 800,000 people.
While the District has a low urbanisation rate, at 30.96%, there is a significant range from 0.56% (Intsika Yethu) to 76.84% (Inkwanca) and half of the local municipalities have substantially passed the 50% urbanisation mark. Chris Hani is classified as a Category C2 municipality, indicating a largely rural character and low urbanisation rate, as well as limited municipal staff and budget capacity. Intsika Yethu, Emalahleni and Engcobo are classed as Category B4 (rural, mainly subsistence), and Inxuba Yethemba, Tsolwana, Ikwanca and Sakhisizwe as B3 (small towns, agricultural) municipalities, similarly reflecting limited institutional capacity and areas characterised by small centres, limited SMMEs and market opportunities, greater dependence on public support and LED activities that are principally at the level of the small project. Lukhanji is one of only three Category B2 (large core town/s with surrounding agricultural areas) municipalities in the Province, reflecting reasonably adequate budgets and staff, urban centre(s) with associated resources where LED activities are emerging into strategies and programmes to take advantage of economic potential, as well as substantial numbers of SMMEs, considerable market opportunities, but limited private sector business development services.
Queenstown, in Lukhanji, is the administrative and economic centre of the District, as well as being centrally situated. Lukhanji accounts for around one third of the District’s GDP (37.22%) and formal employment (31.93%). The level and depth of poverty in the CHDM is considerable, with 68.5% of the population living in poverty. The HDI for Chris Hani is low, at 0.47, with only Inxuba Yethemba and Lukhanji rating at, and above, the provincial HDI (0.52). The district is home to 13.29% of the provincial population, but contributes only 6.51% to provincial GVA and 9.03% to provincial employment. The District’s principal sectoral employer is community services. This pattern of reliance on government and community services as principal employer is reflected across all but two local municipalities (Tsolwana, Inkwanca) where agriculture is the principal sectoral contributor to both GVA-R and employment.