AbaQulusi Municipality is located in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal and is approximately 4185 km2 in extent and has a population of about 250 000 people. It constitutes about 30% of the Zululand District Municipality, and is one of the five local municipalities that make up the district.
AbaQulusi serves a largely rural community with low income levels that are more severely affected by conditions of poverty than urban communities are. The families have mostly women as interim heads of household and very high dependency levels marginalise these families even more. The challenge lies in implementing appropriate community upliftment and empowerment programmes to create an environment where people can meet there basic needs and improve their quality of life.
Economically the AbaQulusi area is endowed with various resources, which, to date, have not yet been fully developed. To facilitate future development and growth it is essential to draw on these resources and through creative and visionary means implement measures that will result in the economic regeneration and upliftment of the population.
Agriculture provides the economic base of the area and the topography lends itself to the cultivation of a great variety of agricultural products. The collapse of the coalmining has affected adversely both commerce and the rest of the tertiary industries in the area. It is the view of the Council that in the face of the collapse of the coalmining in the area, the area should be declared a “Special need Zone” in order to draw on the energies of all spheres of government for its regeneration.
Manufacturing in the Municipal area includes food and beverages, clothing and textiles, leather products, paper and paper products, printing and publishing, metal products, machinery and equipment .There is a need to develop manufacturing capabilities around the beneficiation of primary products.
Products produced are timber, field crops and livestock. Most of the timber is exported out of the area and has experienced a rapid growth phase for the last five years. It is however experiencing a number of constraints that will impact on further growth. The timber industry uses migrant’s work-teams and very few local workers are employed. No secondary activities have developed secondary to the timber industry.
Current products farmed are maize, groundnuts, soya beans, sunflowers, fruits and sorghum. Cattle farming have played a major role but this market is also strained due to rising input costs and stock theft. Small game farming provides opportunity for economic development and provides a solution to stock theft, domestic diseases and the demands made by the national and international market.
The Vryheid Economic Regeneration Study identified the development of agri-business as an opportunity for the area. Very little industrial activities currently exist to take direct advantage of the strong agricultural base. The challenges that are facing Agricultural sector are that nearly all processing takes place outside the region.
AbaQulusi’s main tourism potential lies in its relatively well-developed infrastructure, close links with the Battlefields Route, its conference potential, eco-tourism and outdoor adventure events.
The breathtaking beauty of the area, its lush vegetation and rolling hills with abundant game wait to be explored. The rich cultural lifestyle and rural tranquillity belie the town’s up-to-date infrastructure.
Vryheid is small enough to give a taste of the country and yet large enough to provide the infrastructure for all the essential modern conveniences. Vryheid’s natural diversity is a great draw-card. With over 370 species of birds and many animals, reptiles, insects, amphibians and plants to be seen and enjoyed, it is an eco-tourism delight. There are numerous game farms, sites of conservational significance, Heritage Sites and other areas of beauty and great interest.
The major reserves like Ithala, Hluhluwe, Umfolozi and Mkuzi, where the Big Five can be seen, are all easily accessible. Wetlands of national importance abound in the district, with Blood River Vlei being the most important. One may recapture the atmosphere of the past by visiting Dingaanstat, Lancaster Hill, Holkrans monument, the site of Blood River and various other battlefields. Vryheid is an active role-player in the Rainbow Route, Battlefields Route and Zululand in general.
Opportunities through the provision of backpacking accommodation and links to surrounding areas such as coastal initiatives and game reserves should be explored. The following opportunities in the tourism sector were identified in the Regeneration Study:
Living mine museum;
Thaka-Zulu Game Reserve;
Coal Train Tourist Trips;
Ntendeka Wilderness Area.
King DiniZulu at Coronation
Princes Mkabayi Grave and
Prince Imperial Louis Napoleon
To make the people of AbaQulusi, enjoy the most improved quality of life and community – driven services by 2030
Municipality commits to the following:
Creating an environment conducive to economic development and growth.
Becoming the focus area for Zulu-cultural tourism.
Making AbaQulusi area a safe and vibrant place to live and work in.