uMtshezi Local Municipality is located approximately 165 km northwest of Durban and 400 km southeast of Johannesburg. The National Road N3 also traverses the Municipality on its western portion linking these two major cities i.e. Durban and Johannesburg.
uMtshezi Municipality comprises parts of the Magisterial Districts of Weenen and Estcourt, the informal settlements of Cornfields, Thembalihle, Mimosadale, and numerous settlements around Weenen. Escourt is the largest commercial centre in the Midlands region, and an important service centre for nearby Mooi River, Winterton, Bergville, Colenso and Weenen. Weenen is a small agricultural town that is starting to emerge as a tourist destination. The majority of the people in the municipality are concentrated in urban areas and in farming areas but there are a few patches of high-density settlements within the informal areas.
The municipality boasts well-established industrial, commercial and residential areas as well as rich agricultural farmlands. The area has a rich history and a range of cultures. The urban areas originally developed as stopover points for ox wagons.
The key economic sectors within the municipality include agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.
uMtshezi occupies the ideal spot for any manufacturing industry. It is adjacent to the N3 national highway, and lies on the Johannesburg-Durban electrified main railway line, facilitating the transportation of goods to and from the town. uMtshezi has a highly efficient, reliable and cost effective electrical infrastructure, which supplies its large industries with all the power they need to run their plants. An abundance of water, from the Bushman's River, which flows into the nearby Wagendrift Dam, ensures that the industrialists are suitably served in terms of their water requirements. In addition, water tariffs remain extremely favourable.
Estcourt is well known for some of its industries such as:
Eskort Bacon Factory (producing sausages and other meat products known throughout many parts of the world);
Nestle (the largest factory of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere); and
Masonite (producing hardboard, softboard and related timber products
Other industries include glassware, nylon goods, maize products, and textiles.
The municipality is not fully utilizing the opportunities presented by N3 and its proximity to the World Heritage Site. The area has many areas of scenic beauty and the Municipality is planning to identify cultural sites that will be used to attract tourists and new business. There are mountainous areas, mainly in the north, and numerous river valleys, such as the uThukela River along the northern boundary, and the Bushman’s River, which traverses the centre of the municipal area. The Bushman’s River is well suited to the development of eco-adventure tourism as there are numerous settlement nodes in close proximity to the river. The potential for development is heightened by the fact that the water is of a very high quality and the river is ideal for canoeing and river-rafting.
The scenic 980 ha Wagendrift Nature Reserve surrounds the Wagendrift Dam and is situated just off the main N3 highway near Estcourt. Boating and fishing are the primary guest activities around the dam, and a relaxed three kilometre self-guided trail winds along the Bushman’s River providing opportunity to observe the wildlife and bird life of the reserve.
Weenen was established in 1838 on the banks of the Bushman's River and named (The Place of Weeping) in memory of Zulu-massacred Voortrekkers. Weenen is today a fascinating mix of history and eco/cultural-tourism.
The Weenen Game Reserve is a KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services Park that forms the core of the Thukela Biosphere. Consisting of some 100 000 hectares of valley bushveld, the Thukela Biosphere is a unique concept that promotes conservation and community upliftment through the sustainable utilization of the area s natural resources. Malaria and bilharzia free, the biosphere offers a wide variety of activities, including night drives, guided/self-guided walks, a 47 km network of game viewing roads. 4X4 trails. There is a game viewing hide on a water-hole, and three scenic picnic sites.
Historical and Other Places of Interest
Fort Durnford Museum; Willowgrange Battle Field; Vechtlaager; Zaailaager; Gatsrand; Wagendrift Dam; Weenen Game Reserve; Moor Park Game Reserve.
“By 2020, Umtshezi Local Municipality will be the champion of a Sustainable Development and safe environment”
Mayor, Cllr BD Dlamini
Deputy Mayor, Cllr BA Dlamini
Speaker, Cllr CJ Nunes
Municipal Demarcation Board Code:
Location of Head Office:
Estcourt is 94 km north of Pietermaritzburg