Municipality: Umkhanyakude District Municipality


uMkhanyakude District Municipality is situated in the northeastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, extending from the uMfolozi River up to the Mozambique and Swaziland borders, being bounded to the east by the Isimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site, formerly known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, that encompasses the entire coastline onto the Indian Ocean. The following five local municipalities are found under the district municipality:

  • uMhlabuyalingana Municipality
  • Jozini Municipality
  • the Big Five False Bay Municipality
  • Hlabisa Municipality
  • Mtubatuba Municipality

There is also a district management area that the district municipality is responsible for.

The district is largely rural, Mtubatuba in the south being the only substantial town. Several smaller towns are growing rapidly, such as Manguzi, Jozini, Mkuze and, to alesser extent, Mbazwana.

The population (about 620.000) is exceptionally young, with 70% being below 18 years of age. Low education levels (46% of people have never been to school and 66.4% of adults have a limited education) together with a youthful population profile emphasise the need for a greater focus on education and related activities. There is limited access to information, particularly in the deep rural areas.

Unemployement and poverty are at a high level. Only 6.6% of the total population have employment. More than 70% of the population survive on less than R800 per month and 82.95% of households live below the poverty line.

Free basic services for water, sanitation and electricity are currently being piloted. Two water tankers have been bought and R6.7 million has been given in support of drought relief.  

uMkhanyakude furthermore refers to the greenish tree with some thorns (Acacia Xanthophloea Fever Tree) that mainly grows in the District. Literally it means “that shows light from afar.” The name of the District reflects both the uniqueness of its people and their hospitality, as well as the biodiversity and conservation history that the region is very proud of. Umkhanyakude is home to the Big Five and offers memorable year-round tourism experiences with mild winters and hot summers.

Umhlosinga Development Agency

The uMhlosinga Development Agency is a municipal entity, and registered private company, dedicated to the planning and implementation of a program of sustainable economic growth and development in the district of Umkhanyakude.

Critical infrastructure

uMkhanyakude is well positioned to reap the benefits of South African-Mozambique business relations and infrastructural development like the Durban N2 Corridor to Maputo. The construction and operation of the Mkuze Regional Airport is an investment that triggers business opportunities in the area. 


The key drivers of the local economy are agriculture, services, tourism and retail. Agri- processing has potential, but this has yet to be realized as a key driver. 

uMkhanyakude forms part of the Lubombo Trans-frontier Conservation Area. This conservation area includes South Africa, Swaziland andMozambique. The Tembe-Futi portion of the Lubombo Trans-frontier Conservation Area falls within uMkhanyakude, with Ndumo and TembeElephant Park forming major attractions. uMkhanyakude has applied for the entire district to be declared as a Biosphere Reserve, ensuring that all economic development is in line with conservation principles.

The Jozini Dam forms an integral part of the economy of the region. It draws its water from Maputaland’s Pongola River, which has a series of oxbow lakes and pans teeming with fish and bird life. Tiger fishing from luxurious house boats is a popular attraction. The dam, which is one of the largest in the country, is an under-exploited tourism resource in the area. The Muzi Lake, boat and canoeing projects also offer invaluable development potential.

The alluvial soils surrounding the river have considerable agricultural possibilities. This dam is designed to irrigate more than 80 000 hectares of agricultural land. Crops include sugar cane, rice, coffee, cotton, fibre crops and various sub-tropical fruits. Other agricultural products in the region include timber, tomatoes, chillies and pineapples. The area produces over 90% of South Africa’s queen pineapples. There is potential for agri-processing in the form of canning or bottling of pineapples.

One of the most exciting opportunities for generating local large-scale employment lies in the construction of an industrial cluster on communal land on the Makhathini Flats. The construction would include a sugar mill with potential for co-production of ethanol and electricity. The construction of a cold storage facility will also improve access to markets for farmers.