The uPhongolo Local Municipality is in extent of approximately 3 200 km2 and accommodates in the region of 120 000 people. Main access to the municipality is via the N2 from Gauteng in the northwest and Durban in the south. The municipality provides regional access to a wide range of tourist activities outside its own boundaries.
Main rivers in the municipality consist of the Mkuze River in the south and the Pongola River in the north, the latter feeding the Pongolapoort Dam located on the eastern boundary of the municipality. Together with the fragmented and sometimes dramatic topography of the area, the municipality contains in overall terms very low settlement densities while on the other hand containing substantial recreational and tourism opportunities.
The overall aim in terms of integrated development planning and land use management is to provide a secure environment for investment within the uPhongolo Municipality. The focus is on the investment in social and economic infrastructure and services, which will enable all the people of uPhongolo to make a contribution to the future sustainable development of the area.
Agriculture and tourism form the basis for the municipality's economy. The municipality promotes and support SMME development in acknowledgement of the support that such enterprises make to economic development, job creation and income generation. Stakeholders agreed that in the short term, projects of a capital nature will provide opportunities for employment. The strategy therefore entails labour-intensive projects in the short term.
Major development components within the municipality consist of game and nature reserves, agricultural activities, traditional settlement areas and some urban nodes.
Located substantially around Pongola and the Pongola River, the municipality contains significant areas of commercial agriculture. The activities take mostly place in areas of flat to reasonable topography providing opportunities for irrigation. While much of the agricultural activities consist of sugar cane farming, smaller areas are under citrus and crop planting. Being one of the major economic developments in the municipality, it would be important on the one hand to create additional opportunities for appropriate commercial agriculture, while on the other hand establish more efficient community-based activities in the traditional settlement areas.
This strategy entails the investigation of product diversification, beneficiation opportunities and the development of partnerships between emerging and established farmers. Central to the strategy is the development of particularly the indigenous women and the provision of support systems.
Tourism remains one of the key economic development sectors of the uPhongolo Municipality. The municipality will continue to establish an environment conducive to the development of the tourism industry and will focus on projects contributing to establishing such an environment.
The uPhongolo Municipality has within its area of jurisdiction two key tourism attractions, viz. the Ithala Game Reserve and the Pongolapoort Dam. These attractions are complemented by a large number of private game farms and game reserves on which a number of lodges and other tourism related facilities are located. Together with the Department of Economic Development and other stakeholders, including neighbouring municipalities, the municipality has during the past year initiated the preparation of the Pongolapoort Dam Local Development Plan. This plan will provide clear guidelines on future spatial development around the dam and highlight key projects to be implemented. The Intermunicipal Forum established between the uPhongolo, Jozini, uMkhanyakude and Zululand municipalities will facilitate future development in areas surrounding the dam.
The focus here is the co-operation with the other four Local Municipalities and the District Council to develop a joint tourism strategy which offers diverse and yet complementary services and activities. The specific outcome of this strategy is the stopover of tourists, as a departure from the current 'passing tourists' phenomenon.
The key focus of the uPhongolo Municipality will be to promote tourism investment by public sector agencies and private sector investors in the area. The Pongolapoort Project Facilitation service will be key to achieving this. The Tourism Officer of the uPhongolo Municipality will fulfil a key role in liaising with all the stakeholders in tourism. Projects will be funded from various sources including the DBSA, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
"uPhongolo LocalMunicipality will evolve into a dynamic socio-economically driven environment through sustainable service delivery"
"To ensure provision of sustainable service delivery in order to improve the quality of life of the communities within our area of jurisdiction".