The major structuring elements of the uMhlabuyalingana Municipality are the Pongola River along the western boundary, the road from Sikhamelele to Manguzi (east-west linkage), and the recently completed road (MR22) from Hluhluwe. The municipality consists of a number of District Management Areas (DMAs) that fall under the municipal jurisdiction of the uMkhanyakudeDistrictMunicipality, as well as the urban settlements of Manguzi, Mbazwana, Mseleni, Sikhamelele and Mboza. The DMAs are located along the northern, eastern and southern boundaries of the municipality.
The local municipality is extremely rural with informal settlements at Mbazwana and Manguzi. The area is influenced by the influx of people who migrate from Swaziland and Mozambique.
uMhlabuyalinganaMunicipality, like any other municipalities in the country, has a huge service backlog. It remains a challenge for the municipality to deliver quality services to the community within a short period of time. Over the past decade the municipality has managed to deliver relevant services to the communities, but lot of work to be done. This has been achieved through effective utilization of funds and human resources. The local integrated planning together with the district municipality has achieved a lot to reduce the service backlog.
Economy Agriculture dominates the economy followed by the government sector, the informal sector and community and social services. During the last few years, there has been a decrease in employment levels in spite of an increase in population figures. This situation emphasises the need to undertake high impact economic development projects that are sustainable and creates employment.
Subsistence agricultural activities make a limited contribution to the local economy.
Efforts need to be made to reduce obstacles currently facing the agricultural sector. Key constraints include: lack of access to water resources despite the abundance of natural resources (development of irrigation schemes to support small growers is considered uneconomical); lack of road access to agricultural production areas, and internal and external markets.
High potential agricultural land must be identified and high value agricultural produce promoted to broaden rural livelihoods. In addition, agricultural beneficiation, which could involve the development of agri-processing factories, must be promoted. It is necessary to promote the development of appropriate infrastructure, such as market stalls, at accessible locations. The provision of agricultural extension services (fertiliser, seeds, irrigation, etc.) including training programmes with the participation of the Department of Agriculture is required.
Tourism Tourism is increasingly making a greater contribution to the local economy. The municipality has an abundance of natural assets, which include magnificent sand forest patches, the PongoloRiver along the western Boundary, KosiBay to the East, and Maputaland marine reserve to the East. The region is graced by LakeSibhayi, which is the one of the largest natural fresh water lakes in South Africa covering an area of 7,218ha.
As well as being largely dependent on the surrounding flora, the rural people in the area use traditional fishing methods to harvest the numerous fish species in the river estuary. This provides an important protein source to local families and a tourist attraction to KosiBay's many visitors. The utilization of resources from the system, and its regulation by the authorities, provides an excellent example of the concept of wise use in action.
uMhlabuyalingana is endowed with a diversity of wildlife, which includes black and white rhino, buffalo, leopard, hippopotami, eland, hyena, wildebeest, kudu, warthog, giraffe, zebra, reedbuck, jackals and other small mammals. Most of the animals are found in the TembeElephantPark situated in the north area adjoining the Mozambique border.
The entire coastal strip of uMhlabuyalingana which hosts these natural environmental assets has been designated a district management area that is administered by the greater iSimangaliso WetlandPark authority. Consequently the local municipality does not benefit from their presence in terms of revenue from the tourists. Therefore further means to benefit form the assets need to be implemented. Current examples include CulturalVillage at Zama-Zama, Curio Shop next to TembePark, CulturalVillage near PK Ngubane, Inyoni Emnyama Lodge, AmalindaCulturalVillage, CulturalVillage at Sibhayi, Mabaso Game Reserve, LakeSibhayi, Thubalethu Lodge, Buhle besiko Nemvelo, and the Hlubazane Curio Shop - Markets and Info Centre.
Heritage Sites include: iSimangaliso Wetland Park, St Lucia Lake System, turtle beaches and coral reefs, Lake Sibhaya, Kosi Lake System, Ndumo Game Reserve; Sodwana Bay; and Tembe Elephant Park.
Forest Reserves include: Tembe, Sileze, Manguzi, Malangeni, Coastal and Mbazwane.
Vision We want to see ourselves as the most democratic and developmental municipality in South Africa that will enhance socio-economic growth for all people
Mission To create an enabling environment and sustainable development which promotes equality and, freedom, poverty reduction and quality of life for our communities