The uPhongolo Local Municipality is one of five local municipalities located within the area of the Zululand District Municipality. The municipality is governed by the Council consisting of 22 councillors and an Executive Committee. The administrative functions are performed by the Municipal Manager and a team of managers.
Consisting of the Manager Corporate Services, Manager Financial Services, Manager Engineering Services, Manager Community Services and the Manager Protection Services.
The Municipality is located in KwaZulu-Natal in the northern area of Zululand District Municipality (DC26). The Municipality consists of 11 wards and it has a geographical area of 3239 km².
The uPhongolo Municipal area largely comprises of traditional areas with its tribal land patterns and high density rural settlements.
Pongola-Ncotshane is the primary node of uPhongolo and accommodates the highest order nodal activities. It is formal and planned with an orderly growth pattern. Belgrade settlement (situated approximately 50km west from Pongola on the N2 to Piet Retief in Mpumalanga and a node halfway between Pongola and Belgrade are the secondary nodes and provides a strategic service to a number of tribal areas which are located far from Pongola town.
Magudu, Golela, the N2/P72 intersection (Golela) and the N2/P522 (Jozini) intersection are special nodes identified for future development based on their unique position within the area. Pongola-Ncotshane, and TSB Mill townships are high density built areas, which constituted the former TLC area. These areas are surrounded by sugar cane farms beyond which are high density traditional authority settlements with isolated pockets of game farms.
The N2 national road corridor passes through the uPhongolo area as a national link between Gauteng and the Richards Bay Complex and on to Durban. It also connects with Swaziland just to the north of the uPhongolo Municipal area. This is the primary development corridor in uPhongolo.
The secondary development corridor provides access from Pongola (P313) and Ncotshane to the outside area as well as connection between Pongola and Magudu (P52) and Magudu to Louwsburg (P46/51). Arterial roads through the area are in good condition. There are various district roads in the area together with smaller farm or agricultural roads. In practically all instances these roads are in a poor condition and in need of upgrading.
The economy of uPhongolo is largely based on agricultural activities. Construction work is periodic and based on large infrastructural projects being developed (e.g. the recent upgrade of the N2 and MIG projects). The local economy is further characterised by the absence of beneficiation strategies. Raw products are transported to other industrial centres for further processing and this result in the erosion of the job creation potential of the area.
The Public Sector remains the dominant provider of employment opportunities. This has a significant economic impact to the small number of employees in this sector. The informal sector is, however, expanding, primarily based on the taxi industry, informal financial services and taverns.
The uPhongolo Area features some important conservation areas or areas that will require careful management in the unfolding development pattern:
- Pongolapoort Dam and Nature Reserve
- Bivane Dam
- Ithala Nature reserve
- The area surrounding Magudu and the Mkuze river
- The area between the R66 and the N2
The Municipality is in an excellent position to reap the benefits of a intensive tourism programme due to the natural beauty of the area, the existing tourism related development and the potential for future tourism related development. The proposed extension of Ithala Nature Reserve and the upgrading and development of facilities at the Pongola Poort Nature Reserve have the potential to greatly enhance the tourism sector in the Municipality with the concomitant effect of changing the area to a destination rather than thoroughfare to other destinations.