Harry Gwala District Municipality, previously Sisonke, is named after Communist Party and African National Congress apartheid struggle stalwart, Harry Gwala. The District includes the southern most part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg National Park adjacent to Lesotho and borders the Eastern Cape Province in the west. The local municipalities located within the District boundaries have recently undergone change. KwaSani and Ingwe local municipalities have merged. The municipality is comprised of four local municipalities: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, uMzimkhulu, Greater Kokstad and Ubuhlebezwe.
Harry Gwala is well endowed with natural resources and has vast potential for the development of its foremost economic sectors namely agriculture and tourism. Commercial farms and to a large extent commercial plantations form the bedrock of the economy of the region. The status of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg as a World Heritage Site brings local and foreign tourists to this mountain area. The relatively unspoilt natural environment has high eco-tourism and adventure tourism potential. Greater diversity of tourism in the District could be achieved through a wider range of facilities and attractions including historical, cultural events and eco-tourism adventures.
The District is coordinating a number of local economic development programmes together with various sector government departments to assist in trying to push back the frontiers of poverty and to address the needs of women and youth.
The town of Kokstad in The Greater Kokstad Municipality is located on the main transport arterial linking KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Kokstad serves as the service centre and commercial hub for most of East Griqualand and much of the Eastern Cape. This location has tremendous potential for the town to strengthen its commercial sector, build small and micro enterprises and promote local economic development strategies.
Towns such as Creighton, Bulwer and Donnybrook. Ingonyama Trust land makes up a large proportion of the municipality and includes a number of tribal authorities' areas of administration.
Economically, the most prominent employment sectors are agriculture, construction and small-scale manufacturing. The district is known for its progressive farming methods. Harry Gwala has an abundance of high quality soils, high altitude, abundant water, and climatic extremes, which makes the area suitable for dairy farming. A significant portion of dairy consumed in KwaZulu-Natal is produced within the district. The unspoilt natural environment has high ecotourism and adventure-tourism potential.
Ubuhlebezwe Local Municipality is well located from a regional perspective within southern KwaZulu-Natal between Pietermaritzburg, Kokstad and the Eastern Cape. Ixopo is located on the cross-roads linking Pietermaritzburg and the Eastern Cape and Highflats and the coastal towns with the Drakensberg. The farmer's market in Ixopo provides an outlet for fresh produce and other items including art and craft providing a much needed income earning opportunity.