Mbizana is made up on a main town and surrounding villages, located in the Eastern Cape Province on the R61 road connecting KwaZulu Natal South Coastal Boundary to the N2 highway.
With a population of approximately 246 516 living in 46 730 households occupying an area of roughly 2 806 km2, Mbizana prides itself on cultural diversity which includes a variety of tribes such as Xhosa’s, Mpondo’s, Sotho’s and Nguni’s. However, the population is dominated by the Mpondo tribe. A female dominated society, as men only account for 46% of the population, the municipality makes efforts to integrate and incorporate women in key decision making roles within the institution, to reflect this demographic.
The majority of households in Mbizana are of a rural nature as close to 95% of the population resides in the surrounding villages, with the rest living in the urban area. This results in natural resources proving a strong base for basic survival as those living in rural areas turn to subsistence farming for their livelihoods.
Unemployment is a crisis throughout South Africa, and Mbizana still remains affected as a large portion of the population is still struggling to secure formal employment.
According to the LED strategy adopted in 2010/11, Agriculture and tourism are the primary active sectors in the local economy. Other primary sectors like mining and manufacturing are not performing optimally. Thedevelopment of an Agricultural Development Plan is critical, to ensure integrated and effective coordination of agricultural development aligned with the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform. The Land Restitution program also results in serious constraints resulting in some prime economic land remaining underutilized due to land claims and disputes. Land Restitution has to be monitored, to ensure that development occurs in a smooth process.
The overall economy has improved in the last decade (1999 -2009). There is a need for these
improvements to manifest into programs which directly deal with issues of poverty and unemployment. The gross develop product is estimated by 2008 (Global Insight) to be approximately R500 million. This shows a huge improvement from its estimated R300 000 by 2003 largely due to
increased per capita growth in retail and domestic services.
The municipality is making strides in job creation programs, with a total of 1000 jobs created through the CWP. Ten wards participated in the Community Work Program (CWP) employing an average of 100 people per ward. A need for the implementation of a Municipal Capacity Building Intervention to ensure improvement of skills and knowledge of communities was also proposed by the LED Strategy. This will also assist the municipality to be able to support the provision of Sustainable Rural Local Economic Development.
The LED Strategy identifies specific LED Strategic Focus Areas, namely:
- Eco Tourism Strategy –Taking advantage of the spatial location of the municipality and its proximity to the Durban and Western Cape visitor sites and its unique bio-diversity.
- Agro-Processing Strategy – Approximately 100 000 hectares of viable agric – land
- Marine and Related Resources – Mari-Culture – Coast line and proximity to abundant marine resources, new and innovative space for Eastern Cape
- Businesses Processing Outsourcing – Premised on the need to develop human capital
- SMME Development deals with provision of support and approximately 200 SMMEs, including cooperatives have been supported. A business support centre is currently operational.
Source: Mbizana IDP Review 2012-17