The MangaungMetropolitan Municipality is located in the Free State Province, in the centre of South Africa. The Free State is bordered by six provinces, namely Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces, as well as the neighbouring country of Lesotho.
The municipality was formed after the local government elections in May 2011, and has been a local municipality since 2000 by amalgamating the Transitional Local Councils of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu and two Rural Councils. The municipality is working to integrate the city and ensure that previously disadvantaged communities are spatially linked to the rest of the city.
Being the sixth largest city in the country, the Mangaung municipal area covers more than 6 263km2 and hosts a population of about 850 000 people. The languages spoken in the area are mainly Sesotho, Afrikaans, English and Setswana.
Mangaung, meaning “Place of the Cheetah”, accentuates the vibrant, dynamic and energetic character of the tourism industry in the “City on the move”.
Bloemfontein is the economic hub and the provincial capital of the Free State. The city, fondly known as “The city of roses”, is also the commercial capital of the Free State and the judicial capital of South Africa.
Bloemfontein’s economy is mainly based on the services and government sectors. It is also ideally equipped to support demanding industrial activities and is the base of a huge agricultural area. It is incomparable in terms of locality, facilities, viability and accessibility, and displays a proud tradition of hospitality.
The city’s rich cultural and historical heritage is reflected in its museums, art galleries and cultural festivals. The city also offers excellent recreational, shopping and entertainment facilities.
With its picturesque rural tranquility and vibrant, dynamic central business district, this modern city prides itself on being luxuriously steeped in rich traditions – and yet also on embracing other cultures, new ideas and a rapidly changing technology.
Bloemfontein is also a recognised melting pot of creative ideas and expressions. All residents are given exciting opportunities to enrich their lives, while various development programmes ensure the prospect of a higher standard of living for all.
The African National Congress (ANC) was established in the township of Batho in 1912. Maphikela House, built in 1926 and commonly known as the birth place of the ANC, is a national monument and can be viewed by visitors. The Nationalist Party was also founded in Bloemfontein in 1914.
Speculation has it that Bloemfontein's name was derived from the large number of flowers that grew around an old fountain or spring on a farm which belonged to a Voortrekker named Johannes Nicolaas Brits.
While for Brits the requirements were sufficient water and fertile soil, it was Major Henry Douglas Warden, the British Resident in Griqua territory, who in 1846 chose to settle in the centrally situated spot in the vast, dry plains. This was ideal because of the absence of horse sickness, the spacious open country and the close proximity of the main route to Winburg.
Botshabelo, meaning “A place of refuge”, is situated 45km from Bloemfontein on the national N8 road to Lesotho. It is believed to be the largest township settlement in the Free State and the second largest in the country after Soweto. Botshabelo was established in 1978 as an apartheid engineered town for the displaced Basotho people in the Free State. Most of the present inhabitants moved to the town from rural farms.
Botshabelo has developed into the industrial hub of MANGAUNG and houses about 154 fully operational factories. High-quality products from predominantly textile related factories are marketed throughout South Africa and exported worldwide. It is also a dormitory town for workers in Bloemfontein.
Thaba Nchu consists of both an urban area with private land ownership and a rural area of both private and communal land with people living in 31 scattered villages in the area.
Thaba Nchu is located 12km east of Botshabelo on the N8 road to Lesotho. This settlement lies at the foot of the well-known Thaba Nchu Mountain, also known in the local Sesotho language as “Black Mountain”.
Thaba Nchu has been the home of the Tswana people in the Free State for more that 180 years. The town is closely governed by His Majesty Chief Albert Moroka. He is responsible for most civil matters as well as being the judge at the tribal court.
Apart from being a prominent cultural centre, Thaba Nchu offers luxurious accommodation and a variety of entertainment opportunities.
Relative Importance of the Mangaung Economy
The economy of the Mangaung Municipality plays a significant role in the Motheo District economy (92,5%) as well as the Free State economy (25,5%), but it is relatively small when compared to the national economy (1,6%).
Of importance is the relatively small share of the local agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors compared to the province and the country. Mining’s small share is understandable as MANGAUNG competes with the Goldfields area, which is very strong in mining, however the share of agriculture and manufacturing is disturbingly low. On the other hand, the tertiary sector of the local economy is very significant within the context of the province.
Gross Geographic Product (GGP) Per Capita
Another means of gauging the relative size of the local economy is by analysing the GGP.The GGP per capita provides an indication of the amount of production that takes place in an area in relation to the population of that area. Although Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu have relatively more people than economic activity, Bloemfontein has a strong GGP per capita.
Sector Profile Comparison
Approximately 87% of economic production in Mangaung occurs in Bloemfontein while only 7% and 6% respectively occur in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.
Mangaung Economic Growth
The Mangaung economy grew at 1,8% per annum from 1990-1996 followed by a period of lower growth from 1996-2001. A higher growth rate of 1,8% is forecast for the period 2001-2006.
When compared to growth in the province, the local economy outperformed the province in all sectors except for agriculture. National growth for the period 1996-2001 was 2,3% per annum, the study areas therefore did not perform as well as the remainder of the national economy.
Sectors showing strong growth in general are transport and finance while the construction and manufacturing sectors are experiencing negative growth.
Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME)
Small businesses have a major role to play in the South African, and especially the Mangaung economy in terms of employment creation, income generation and output growth. It is estimated that more than 12 million people in South Africa are actively involved in the SMME sector and account for approximately 60% of all employment in the economy and 40% of output.
In an area such as Mangaung, with its relatively high levels of unemployment and poverty, it can be expected that the SMME sector will play an even more important role in job creation and poverty alleviation.
It is essential to strengthen the support systems available for SMMEs in the region in order to create a small business sector that will increase the sustainability of the local economy, increase the competitiveness of local businesses, generate jobs and broaden the tax base of the municipality.
As a result, the Mangaung Municipality established a SMME Service Centre with the aim of co-ordinating quality business development support services to local SMME’s.
Mangaung Economic Development Strategy
The economic development vision for Mangaung is for the municipality to be a powerful regional economic centre, a world class African city that it is built on the foundation of a dynamic, vibrant, sustainable and investor-friendly economy.
The Mangaung Municipality has instituted a ward-focused planning process for the development of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The top priorities identified by the ward plans are focused on improving incomes and creating jobs.
Several projects have been identified and initiated by the national, provincial government and Motheo District Council for this area. Other projects have been initiated by the private sector. These projects have not been coordinated and are likely to fail. Mangaung wishes to pursue these projects with the view to putting in place a coordinated approach and to encourage income generation and economic development for this area.
Within this context the municipality faces a number of challenges in respect of economic development. These include:
Coordinating and building on all the attempts to support economic development in the municipal area. Specifically, the coordination of activities of national government, the Free State Province, Motheo District Municipality as well as the private sector.
Addressing the specific economic development priorities identified by communities in the ward planning process, as well as strategically in the IDP.
The establishment of a broad stakeholder based economic development strategy and partnership is seen as a key mechanism for addressing these challenges and facilitating economic development in the area.
The objectives of the Economic Development Strategy are:
To establish an understanding of the MANGAUNG Local Municipality economic system. This includes economic profiling and an assessment of each economic sector in the local environment.
To review the economic development policy environment, in which the study area operates.
To identify latent problems, issues and opportunities inherent to the local economy.
To promote sustainable development through the identification and formulation of proactive interventional development strategies and to incorporate local needs in these strategies.
To identify practical and implementable projects.
To provide guidelines for the implementation of strategies and projects.
Source: Mangaung Metro website.