Newcastle Local Municipality forms part of the Amajuba District Municipality. The primary corridor is the N11, a transportation route for goods transit, mass transport and for private transport. The N11 is the main movement corridor north to Gauteng and, south to Ladysmith and Durban. In terms of the settlements on the corridor, the service hub is situated on the main development corridor. The railway line largely runs parallel to the N11 until the R621. The R34 forms the secondary corridors within the municipal area, linking the municipal area with adjacent areas. Westward, the R34 links the urban core of Newcastle-Madadeni-Osizweni to Memel and on to the N3, with extended links to Gauteng. Geographically, economic activities are concentrated along the major north-south transportation axis.
Historically the economy of the municipality has been dominated by three sectors - manufacturing, mining and community services. The discovery of large deposits of coal in the area at the turn of the century ushered in a period of prosperity, with Newcastle at the centre of this accelerated commercial activity. In 1969 Iscor's decision to locate its third steel works in Newcastle focused the international spotlight on the town's industrial development potential.
The manufacturing and mining sectors are becoming less labour intensive and employment in them is in decline. Private households have become a substantial employer, which reflects the high population of women in the area and their importance in the economy.
The Newcastle-Madadeni area has had a long and successful track-record of attracting Taiwanese (and recently, Chinese) garment and knitwear firms to the location. Today, despite the instability of the sector, clothing remains a crucial employer to both Newcastle-Madadeni and the Province as a whole. The developmental potential of the sector to create employment in an employment-scarce environment has been a major driver of this interest in this sector. The region was able to capitalise on considerable statutory wage differentials and limited regulatory enforcement to position itself as a cheap labour location.
Production activities in the clothing-related sector in Newcastle-Madadeni are relatively diversified, ranging from a handful of exporting firms to domestic market producers providing product for informal, formal low-end and formal-higher end retailers. Firms established and managed by foreign investors (Taiwanese and Chinese) predominate as only a handful of firms owned and managed by South Africans continue to operate (although these happen to be the largest employers at present).
Analysis suggests that the past decade has seen rapid, perhaps unprecedented growth in Newcastle of service and retail activities - such that Newcastle's position as Northern KwaZulu-Natal's Service Hub is being increasingly recognised by both the private and public sectors. It is important that there be an active drive to reinforce this status.
Agriculture is the main land use in the municipality, indicated by the predominance of "unimproved grassland" (livestock grazing) and the occurrence of areas of cultivation. Numerous pockets of forest plantation occur in the area, with the Amajuba Forest as the largest forest plantation
The tourism sector holds potential as there are a number of opportunities that can be exploited in terms of community and individual based tourism. Currently, tourism is only a small contributor to the region's economy and should be developed and promoted.
The town of Newcastle was established in 1864 and received its name from a Dr Sutherland, who was trapped on the swollen banks of the Ncandu River during his honeymoon. To pass the time, he planned a township on the site, named streets after members of the government and filed his plan on return to Pietermaritzburg. Various military campaigns have centred in and around the town of Newcastle, making it today a natural stay-over for tourists visiting the world-famous Battlefields Route, which boasts the largest concentration of battlefields in the country. The route includes the sites of Battles of Majuba, Laingsnek, and Schuinshoogte. Buller's Headquarters; Draaiwater Country Farm Stall on the Memel Road; Fort Amiel is an historical complex overlooking the town built by the British (Major Amiel) in 1876; Fort Terror; Hilldrop House was once the home of author Rider Haggard;
The Armoury was built in the 1870s by the Newcastle Mounted Rifles; The Town Hall, built in 1897, is a national monument commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The Carnegie Art Gallery is a national monument built in 1915 on the old town gallows site. Lying in the centre of Newcastle, this municipal gallery boasts a small but rich permanent collection of South African contemporary art. A collecting policy built around the theme of landscape and a particular focus on the art and craft of the Newcastle region give the collection coherence.
Municipal Demarcation Board Code: KZ252
Location of Head Office: Newcastle is 96 km north of Ladysmith (N11) and 57 km south of Seme (Volksrust) (N11)
Municipal Area (km2): 1 854.6
Contributes to: Amajuba District Municipality
Towns within the municipal boundaries: Ballengeich, Dicks, Ingogo, Madadeni, Massondale, Newcastle, Osizweni.Newcastle was named after the British secretary for the colonies, the Duke of Newcastle.
Mayor: Mr Makhosini Nkosi
Other Members of Council: E M Nkosi (Mayor and Finance), J C N (Speaker), D P Sibiya (Community Services), E J Cronje (Community Services), R N Mdluli (Corporate Services), V V Bam (Corporate Services), M Shunmugam (Development Planning and Human Settlements), N A Zwane (Finance), R M Molelekoa (Technical Services), M S Thwala (Technical Services)
Municipal Manager: Mr Bhekani Errol Mswane
Chief Financial Officer: Sisho Nkosi (Acting)
Communications Officer: Ms N Vinkumbo (Director: IT and Communications)
LED Officer: Mr Ferdie Alberts
Other Senior Management: D R Molefe (Acting Strategic Director: Corporate Services), S Nkosi (Acting Strategic Director: Budget and Treasury Office), L Zincume (Acting Strategic Executive Director: Technical Services), N Thusi (Strategic Executive Director: Development Planning and Human Settlements), M Sithole (Strategic Executive Director: Community Services)
Physical Address: Newcastle Civic Centre, 37 Murchison Street, Newcastle,2940.
Postal Address: Private Bag X6621, Newcastle, 2940.
Tel:+27 034 328 7600/7750
Fax: +27086775 6304