The OkhahlambaLocalMunicipality is situated in the mountainous region of KwaZulu-Natal between Lesotho, the Free State, Emnambithi and Mtshezi. Okhahlamba is made up of privately owned commercial farmland, smallholder settlements, the urban areas of Bergville, Winterton, CathkinPark, Geluksberg, and two tribal authority areas.
The area is relatively well linked through the network of existing provincial roads that run through the municipality. The municipality is largely reliant on Ladysmith for facilities such as shopping, medical services, education, among other services. However, large capital expenditure is needed to meet service backlogs in the area.
Bergville is a small town of South Africa and is known as the gateway to the Northern Drakensberg. Bergville hosts an office of the Drakensberg Publicity Association. Less than 50 km from the towering Amphitheatre of Royal Natal, the ideally-situated agricultural and trading centre of Bergville was laid out in 1897 by a retired sea captain. British forces built a blockhouse in the settlement two years later at the onset of the Anglo-Boer War - that building is now a Monument and Museum within the grounds of the Bergville Court House.
The Council manages a caravan park and holiday huts on the bank of the uThukelaRiver. A playground and facilities for sports, including swimming, tennis, bowls, cricket, golf, rugby and badminton, are available. A modern community hall serves as a town hall.
Bergville is described as the gateway to the tourism mecca of the Drakensberg. Some of the most picturesque holiday resorts, like CatkinPeak, Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle, Oliviershoek, and Rugged Glen Nature Reserve Spioenkop’s historical site, lakeside resort and dam run by KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife are all situated close to the town. Approximately half a million tourists are attracted to the Drakensberg annually from as far a field as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland and North America, as well as domestic tourists primarily from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, a considerable number of day visitors and hikers pass through the area. As such, it is one of the major sources of income generation within the tourism industry as the foreign spending in the area contributes significantly to the economy. It also plays a significant role regarding where people have settled.
The RoyalNatalNational Park and the Rugged Glen Nature Reserve boast one of South Africa’s most beautiful mountain landscapes, which includes the magnificent peaks of Mont-Aux-Sources. The awesome pinnacle is 3 283 m high and the flat summit can be reached by means of a chain ladder. From that vantage point, the view over Natal and Lesotho is impressive.
A number of project proposals have been made for further tourism opportunities. Issues which need consideration are: substantial private sector involvement, partnerships with local communities, responsible infrastructure provision and efficient marketing and information centres.
Between Bergville and the RoyalNatalNational Park is the Zulu handicraft centre of Thandanani that sells a variety of traditional beadwork, woodwork and baskets.
Not far from Bergville are the Spioenkop Battlefield and Dam Resort and the RangeworthyCemetery that holds the graves of those killed in the battles of Spioenkop and Bastion Hill.
Van Reenen is located at the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Orange Free State on the main N3. The little village is famous for having the Llandaff Oratory, the smallest church in the world - capable of a full house of 8 people. The church was built by a father in memory of his son who died in a mining accident.
Okhahlamba has a strong agricultural base. However, areas of arable land are small, stocking levels are uncontrolled and there is a lack of control over animals. The main product of the district is maize, and there is a large granary capable of storing 300 000 sacks. Peanuts and milk are also produced. There has been an increase in soya bean and broiler production. The third Friday of each month sees the local cattle sales in Bergville.
Local Economic Development
The municipality is currently looking at strategies for laying foundations of accelerating economic growth and development leading to large-scale social transformation. There is a need to create economic opportunities in the municipality. The municipality has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and it will have to position itself to attract tourists. Tourism is one of the economic drivers of this LM and opportunities exist in the municipality which if fully utilised can create jobs.
By 2010, OkhahlambaLocalMunicipality will have developed sustainable Agriculture, Tourism and Commerce with balanced infrastructure and social amenities. Empower and uplift its people through education, skills development, good health and safety, to that end, address the imbalances of the past, and the future needs of the youth, the elderly and those indigent. Integrated housing and all other basic services will have been sufficiently provided to create an enabling environment for renowned agricultural, tourism and commercially viable and sustainable livelihoods for optimized socio-economic development within the precinct of OkhahlambaLocalMunicipality.
Mayor, Cllr DP Sibeko
Municipal Demarcation Board Code: KZ235
Location of Head Office: Bergville is 76 km south of Harrismith (R74) and 66 km west of Ladysmith