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Imbabazane Municipality

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Imbabazane Local Municipality is located at the foothills of the Central Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park (World Heritage Site), and is situated between Okhahlamba, Umtshezi and Mooi- Mpofana Municipalities. The majority of the population of Imbabazane Municipality reside in rural villages scattered throughout the municipal area, particularly in traditional authority areas.

Estcourt is the closest urban centre to Imbabazane, and serves as a regional shopping and service centre offering specialist services including medical, education and manufacturing.

Many of the government departments serving Imbabazane have regional offices located in Estcourt. Ladysmith is the main regional shopping and services centre and boasts a healthy industrial centre that continues to expand. Estcourt and Ladysmith are the main employment centres for Imbabazane. The uThukela District Municipality has a strong district council that has performed an important developmental and administrative role in the region over the past seven years. Investment into infrastructure and services such as water, sports fields, community halls, roads and crèches has benefited many rural communities.

However, Imbabazane does not have a well-defined settlement pattern, which along with poor municipal capacity has inhibited service delivery. It is necessary to co-ordinate the equitable access to all basic services. An analysis of the current situation with regard to the level of access to these services in Imbabazane indicates a huge backlog. This backlog manifests in the form of total lack of services, poor quality of services and poor delivery, taking into account the planning standards for the delivery of services.

Economy
Imbabazane has the weakest economy of the municipalities in the uThukela District Municipality and will thus be requiring considerable support.

Significantly, the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy recognises the importance of the area in demarcating a development corridor between Durban / Pietermaritzburg and Gauteng. The N3 is one of the busiest routes in the country and this vast flow of traffic creates economic opportunities for the uThukela district. Imbabazane is similar to the Indaka Local Municipality adjoining to the south in that it has no formal towns or industrial activities. In addition both local municipalities include large poorly serviced tribal areas where major capital expenditure is required to achieve improvement in the quality of life of the people.

Agriculture
The small areas of commercial farming falling within the municipality consists largely of corporate owned forestry plantations and commercial farms.

Smallholder agriculture is under-developed. Traditional cattle ranching is the main activity and the cattle owner lobby is strong, resulting in rules regarding the removal of cattle from arable lands during cropping seasons being totally ignored. Where arable agriculture is practised field crops include maize, dry beans and potatoes. Vegetables are planted in community and home gardens.

Smallholder agriculture faces a considerable number of constraints, the main one being the lack of effective farmer support services. These services are normally described as including inputs, credit, advice, mechanisation and markets. Farmers do not have linkages with these important services that are essential for commercial activity.

The agricultural sector has a huge potential for being developed and to stimulate economic development within the area. The Agricultural projects that have been identified in the IDP include the following: Deciduous, berry and citrus fruit plantations, Large-scale production of vegetables Large scale sunflower production, Large scale peanuts production, Poultry farming, goat farming, bee keeping and game farms.

Manufacturing
Imbabazane has a very small manufacturing sector with small manufacturing taking place for local consumption. There are two functional factories: a large shoe factory and a braiding factory located at Loskop, providing a number of jobs. There is potential to grow this sector through SMME development and a proper marketing strategy.

Tourism
Based on a scan of the current information available from KZN Wildlife Services and the Tourism Authority, Imbabazane has no major tourism facilities at present apart from the hotel and conference centre at White Mountain. However, the area provides the gateway to two Drakensberg resorts. There is nevertheless potential in the area that needs consideration. Firstly the Estcourt-Winterton railway line lends itself to run as a steam engine for international tourists. The line traverses a number of “turn of the century” stations, which lend themselves to conversion into craft markets, restaurants and overnight accommodation.

There are a number of important bio-diversity sites in Imbabazane which, if carefully protected, could become a “draw card” for specialist groups such as birders to the wetlands, palaeontologists to the fossil beds, cultural groups to historical sites and craft shoppers to markets on the main access roads to Winterton and the Berg resorts.

Tourism Aims, Projects & Plans for the Next 5 Years

  • To provide the gateway to Drakensberg resorts;
  • Provide adequate security and safety for tourists in rural areas;
  • Provide transport infrastructure;
  • Provide a well-planned land-use management system;
  • Improve the existing biodiversity sites.
  • Establish joint tourism marketing program with KZN-Ezemvelo

Historical and Other Places of Interest
Dinosaur fossils in Injisuthi Valley; Langalibalele kraal, the first Inkosi of the Amahlubi tribe; Injisuthi Game Reserve; birdwatching and San paintings at Giant’s Castle; horse riding and fishing at Ntabamhlope Hotel.

Vision
Imbabazane Local Municipality strives to achieve a sustainable and a competitive environment, which provides opportunities to all residents to grow and prosper.

Mission
To provide an enabling environment that promotes sustainable economic growth and development by:

  • Ensuring that there are effective and efficient institutional arrangements in place to create an enabling environment for sustainable development.
  • Striving to achieve a balance between investment in poverty alleviation, on the one hand, and strategic investment in ensuring that pre- conditions are in place to promote economic growth, on the other.
  • Ensuring that development is within sustainable environmental (social, economic and natural) limits at all times.
  • To ensure that all residents have access to basic services.