The Witzenberg Local Municipality (LM), founded in 2000, is classified as a Category B-3 municipality (i.e. small towns and relatively small populations) and is responsible for basic service provision to the demarcated municipal area that includes the towns of Ceres, Tulbagh, Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, Wolseley and Op-Die-Berg. The rural areas within the municipal boundary are Warm Bokkeveld, Koue Bokkeveld, Agter-Witzenberg and the northern portion of Breede River Valley (Land van Waveren). Witzenberg LM comprises an area of 2 851 km², and is situated about 150 kilometers North-East of Cape Town. The region is surrounded by three mountain ranges: the Obiqua Mountains to the west, the Winterhoek Mountains to the north and the Witzenberg range to the east – mountain ranges which are all often spectacularly covered in snow during the winter months. Witzenberg’s natural surroundings are characterized by some selection of fauna and flora, forest wilderness and include the catchment area of three river systems.
The climate in Witzenberg is known for its hot and dry summer days. Winds are seasonal and generally North - westerly or South-easterly. The average annual rainfall in Ceres is about 1088mm and the average temperature range is 2, 4°C to 29, 9°C. Located in the picturesque and fertile Breede Valley, Witzenberg is best known for its fruit and wine products. The region is also well-known for producing other agriculturally-linked products such as olives and grain, as well as for producing beef and pork products. Horse and cattle stud farms are also found within the municipal area.
The municipality has the smallest population of the 5 municipalities within the Cape Winelands, and also has the smallest economy, which only contributes 9% to the Cape Winelands regional GDPR. The two largest sector contributors to GDPR are agriculture (35, 6%) and the manufacturing sector (20, 9%), growing on average at 2, 1 per cent and 10, 6 per cent respectively per annum. Within the manufacturing sector, the food, beverage & tobacco sub-sector is clearly dominant, representing 69, 4 per cent of total manufacturing. Witzenberg is faced with severe challenges. The rural predominance of Witzenberg, taken together with the great development challenges on the one hand and the resource constraints of the Municipality on the other hand, place great pressure on our capacity to meet the service and infrastructure needs of all our residents. Consequently, it is essential that inter-governmental engagement in respect of improving municipal financial management, staffing and institutional capacity, systems and service delivery takes place in order to enhance the municipality’s ability to deliver a bouquet of quality service.
The Witzenberg Municipal area is characterised by the following:
- Urban development – low intensity & density, large under-utilized land in prosperous areas.
- Lower income areas – high density, under-provision of formal business development
- The 5 towns are characterised by segregation in settlements – duplication of services, different levels
- of development due to historic development patterns, and
- Under-utilized commonage.