uThukela District Municipality (UTDM) is one of ten District Municipalities in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.It was established during the 2000 transformation of local government UThukela District Municipality derives its name from one of the major rivers in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, the uThukela River that rises from the Drakensberg Mountains and supplies water to a large portion of KZN and as well as Gauteng. uThukela district municipality has three district municipalities bordering onto it within the Province of Kwazulu -Natal, namely Amajuba,Umzinyathi and Umgungundlovu.
The size of the Municipality is approximately 11500km².It is located in the western boundary of KwaZulu-Natal. It is predominately rural, with three of the five Local Municipalities, rural based. This Municipality is characterised by the socio-economic indicators such as low revenue base, poor infrastructure, limited access to services and obviously low economic base; high levels of poverty, unemployment, skills shortage, lack of resources and low level of education; un/under-developed land and settlement patterns that make it difficult to plan for effective service delivery. There are a number of challenges that are also associated with attraction of investors, tourists and skilled human resource due to its location away from the two major cities namely, Durban and Johannesburg.
uThukela District municipality consists of five Local Municipalities and one District Management Area (DMA), namely, Indaka Local Municipality, Emnambithi/Ladysmith Local Municipality, Umtshezi Local Municipality, Okhahlamba Local Municipality, Imbabazane Local Municipality, and District Management Area 23.
The spatial economy of the district is dominated by Emnambithi that remains the economic hub of the district. Manufacturing is concentrated in Ladysmith. Limited industrial activities are also found in Estcourt. The other municipalities have relatively small economies that are dependent on community services. Okhahlamba has a window of opportunity to improve is agriculture and tourism economies.
Major players in the manufacturing sector in Ladysmith are Zorbatex, Dunlop rubber products and the Defy plant. Estcourt has town houses food and beverages manufactures like Nestle, Sasko Milling, Eskort meat factory and Clover SA. There is Masonite Africa (wood products) glass manufactures (Glamosa Glass) and Karbotek. Okhahlamba leads with agriculture in the district.
There is an opportunity to exploit economic opportunities in the tourism sector in Okhahlamba and Emnambithi. Okhahlamba has Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage site while Emnambithi is linked to the popular Battlefields products. Further studies to explore the location opportunities brought by the N3 and N11 corridors need to be investigated.
According to uThukela NSDP, Emnambithi contributes considerably higher levels of GVA than the other four municipalities, with Umtshezi contributing the lowest to the district GVA.
At 26% Community Services is the largest GVA contributor, followed by manufacturing (18%), financial services (16%), agriculture (13%), transport (11.5%), trade (11%), electricity (3%), construction (2%) and mining (1%).The over dominance of the community services sector is illustrated by its negligible provincial (2.6%) and national (2.5%) GVA contributions. The second most significant sector in the district, in terms of GVA, is the manufacturing sector which contributed 18% of the total district GVA in 2007. This is slightly lower than the sector‟s contribution to the provincial GVA (19%) and that of the sector‟s national share (22%). The third most significant sector is financial services, which represents almost 16% of the district GVA, but only contributes a marginal 2.5% GVA share in both the provincial and national economies. The contribution of the transport sector at the district level (11.5%) is similar to the sector‟s provincial share (12%) and higher than the national (9%) shares. Conversely, trade‟s GVA contribution at the district level (11%) is much higher than that at the provincial economy (2%), but somewhat closer to that of the national (8%) level.
All sectors in the district and within each of the local municipalities recorded positive growth during the 2003-2007 period. However, provincial and national growth has generally outstripped the performance of sectors in uThukela, particularly in the mining, electricity and construction sectors. The district showed a slightly higher percentage change in both the agriculture and finance sectors than provincial and national rates.
Umtshezi, in particular, has registered change in agriculture, finance and community services sectors that are higher than both the provincial and national rate of change over this five year period. Okhahlamba, too, has shown higher than average performance in the agriculture, manufacturing and finance sectors.
The GVA contribution by sector has increased by sector in all municipalities save for the mining sector that has remained stagnant in Indaka. This clearly points out that the district has experienced economic growth.
Source: Uthukela IDP 2011/2012