uMkhanyakude is situated in the north-eastern region of KwaZulu-Natal. The District extends from Mtubatuba (St Lucia) in the south to Kosi Bay in the north, across to the Lubombo mountains in the west. The district is mainly rural with the only formalised town being Mtubatuba in the south. However, several towns are growing rapidly, such as Hluhluwe, Manguzi, Jozini, Mkuze and Mbazwana.
The N2 and part of the Lubombo Mountains form a physical divide within the district. The Lubombo mountain range is known for its spectacular scenery made up of dense natural forests, rugged rock faces, caves and rivers that wind through deep mountain gorges.
A high proportion of the district is under thicket, grassland and wetland while remaining areas are cultivation land and settlement. Large areas of land are under communal tenure in the district, located in the traditional authority areas under the jurisdiction of the Ingonyama Trust. The remaining areas are under state conservation or private ownership with limited formal urban areas.
uMkhanyakude is home to the Big Five animals and offers memorable year-round tourism experiences with mild winters and hot summers. The district includes the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the first World Heritage Site proclaimed in South Africa. The Park stretches along the Zululand coast from Mapelane in the south to Kosi Bay in the north. The name reflects the many areas that make up its 220 000 hectares, such as Lake Sibaya, Sodwana Bay, Mkhuze Game Reserve, False Bay, Fanies Island, Charters Creek, Lake St Lucia, and Cape Vidal. iSimangaliso made modern natural history when living fossils - coelacanths - were discovered off its warm Indian Ocean shoreline. See http://www.isimangaliso.com
uMkhanyakude is well positioned to reap the benefits of South African-Mozambique business relations and infrastructural development like the Durban N2 Corridor to Maputo.
Better east-west access routes need to be established to improve accessibility to tourism and local economic development opportunities along the coast and in the hinterland.
The key drivers of the local economy are agriculture, services, tourism and retail. Agri-processing has potential, but this has yet to be realized as a key driver.
uMkhanyakude forms part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area. This conservation area includes South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The Tembe-Futi portion of the Lubombo Trans-frontier Conservation Area falls within uMkhanyakude, with Ndumo and Tembe Elephant Park forming major attractions. uMkhanyakude has applied for the entire district to be declared as a Biosphere Reserve, ensuring that all economic development is in line with conservation principles.
The Jozini Dam is an integral part of the economy of the region. Drawing water from Maputaland"s Pongola River, the dam comprises a series of oxbow lakes and pans teeming with fish and bird life. Tiger fishing from luxurious house boats is a popular attraction. The dam, one of the largest in the country, is a potential tourism resource in the area. The Muzi Lake, boat and canoeing projects also offer invaluable development potential.
The alluvial soils surrounding the river have considerable agricultural possibilities. Jozini Dam is designed to irrigate more than 80 000 hectares of agricultural land. Crops include sugar cane, rice, coffee, cotton, fibre crops and various sub-tropical fruits. Other agricultural products in the region include timber, tomatoes, chillies and pineapples. The area produces over 90% of South Africa"s queen pineapples. There is potential for canning or bottling of pineapples.
KZN premier Senzo Mchunu recently announced that the Makhathini Flats will be rejuvenated unlocking job opportunities in agriculture, tourism, freight and logistics, maritime, automotive, rail and manufacturing. "We want to ensure the repair and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure in order to stimulate agriculture. We will be putting more emphasis on the rehabilitation of the 3950ha of irrigation land and infrastructure," said Mchunu.
"Aquaculture is not a well-established commodity in the area and we are focusing on an evaluation of fish production in the Phongolapoort dam and the development of infrastructure on the Makhathini Research Station, which will supply fingerlings to the project and release below the dam to ensure a sustainable population of fish for the communities." said Mchunu.
Mkuze Regional Airport
Jozini Hydro-electric Scheme
Makhathini Flats Development (Sugarcane, fruit and vegetables production and processing)
Expanded timber production
Fishing industry based on natural resource harvest supplemented by aquaculture
Expanded ha under cashew and coconut production for processing of oils and nuts for export
Establishment of high value - up market anchor tourism sites to "trigger" further structured investment
Municipal Demarcation Board Code: DC27
Location of Head Office: Mkuze
Municipal Area (km²): 13 859 km²
Population (estimated): ± 573 340
Local Municipalities: uMhlabuyalingana; Jozini; The Big 5 False Bay; Hlabisa; Mtubatuba uMkhanyakude" refers to the greenish tree with some thorns (Acacia Xanthophloea Fever Tree) that mainly grows in the uMkhanyakude District region. Literally it means "that shows light from afar."
Mayor: Cllr. SJ Vilane
Acting Municipal Manager: Mr. EM Mzimela