Bushbuckridge Local Municipality is a presidential nodal point located in the north-eastern part of Mpumalanga Province. The municipality is one of the five constituents of Ehlanzeni District Municipality, and is bounded by Kruger National Park in the east and Mbombela in the South. It also forms part of the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere. The Municipal area provides a link to Limpopo Province and can therefore be called the gateway to the major tourism attraction points in Mpumalanga and the eastern part of the Limpopo Province. Bushbuckridge Local Municipality consists of 135 settlements and is divided into 34 wards.
Demographic Information For Bushbuckridge Municipality
- Accurate population figures remain controversial issues, but for the sake of the study it will rely on the 2001 source of statistics. The highest population is registered by Africans with 497 771 people, residing in Bushbuckridge followed by coloured with 853 people, Indians/Asians with 109 people and whites registering the lowest with 334 people.
- According to the census, Bushbuckridge Local Municipality is the largest municipality in the Ehlanzeni District Municipality. Females represent a considerable majority (almost 54%), reflection the impact of the migrant labour. The age groups of 0-5yrs and 6-16 yrs, males are substantially more than females.
- The employment and unemployment rates are very useful in the compilation of the Spatial Development Framework in order to determine the extent of planning and decision making in addressing relevant issues and formulating appropriate strategies.
- Unemployment is very high in the municipal area especially in rural areas, with less than 15% of the total population is employed.Due to the large population size of the municipality and limited economic opportunities, high level of unemployment are recorded as follows:
- Income Per Household: Income per household is very necessary to determine the overall living standard of people in the municipal area. The municipal area is characterized by high levels of poverty resulting in low income per household in settlements. Incomes per household in the municipal area is below the subsistence income levels for most of the households and reflect a high level of poverty.
Accessibility of Government Services within the Municipality
Safety and Security
- The municipal area has five (4) major police stations, which are strategically located in Thulamahashe, Bushbuckridge, Mkhuhlu, and Acornhoek. The facilities are supplemented by two (2) satellites offices in Mariti and Hluvukani with magistrate courts in Thulamahashe, Bushbuckridge and Mkhuhlu. But these services need to be increased to ensure that all residents are at least in close proximity to satellite safety and security facilities. Services need to accessible to all communities in all the areas.
Education and Labour Force
- 17,5% of the population is illiterate, while 18% is literate.
- Most of the people in the municipal area live in formal housing structures erected on separate stands (63%), while 27,4% reside in traditional houses, mostly prevalent in rural areas. The traditional houses are associated with natural disaster and health problems. Informal dwelling shacks are a reality and need to the addressed as a matter of priority, as 2,16% of the population falls within it. This form of settlement exists within the boundaries of the formal townships.
Mode of Transport
- The majority of people within the municipality walk to school and/work. They are then followed by people who use public transport. The lack of transport is a great challenge for adequate planning for pedestrians and public transport users.
- There is a need for better access paths and roads to be established to improve accessibility to all strategic areas. The municipal infrastructure network requires on-going maintenance, replacement and upgrading.
- The municipal area consists mostly of gravel roads in rural area. A limited amount of tarred roads have been developed especially in the townships and main towns.
- The upgrade of roads could also attract tourists to access the tourism service points within the municipality, as well as the private game lodges on the eastern side of the municipality. The safety of pedestrians on the Hazyview-Klaserie road is a matter of importance as many fatal accidents have been reported in this area.
Health and HIV (AIDS)
- Health services are provided in 3 hospitals, 2 health centers several clinics. The challenge the municipal faces is inadequate medical services in most clinics due to poor supply of medication.
- The prevalence of HIV/AIDS within the municipal area is likely to impact on economic development of the area in the future. It has increased from 6% in 1996 to 11% in 1999 and sharp increase in year 2000 to 16%. There are more than 3 000 people taking retroviral treatment in the area of Bushbuckridge.
- Water supply is a dominant problem in the municipal area especially in rural areas with 61% not meeting RDP water supply levels. More than 60% of the households do not have access to potable water, 16% rely on tap water, while 10.7% rely on borehole and 3% on natural water (spring and rivers).
- Water reticulation and Sanitation both managed by DWAF and the municipality require provision and upgrading in most of the areas in the municipality. Water supply to settlements and townships is still not reliable. On certain days taps are dry in the townships whereas some settlements go through dry taps for days.
- Linked to water supply problems is the issue of poor sanitation, particularly in the densely populated settlement clusters and dispersed small settlements. Approximately 80% of the households in the municipal area use pit latrines, 84% of the population do not meet RDP sanitation standards. The extensive use of unlined pit latrines poses a potential pollution threat to the surface and ground water resource of the area.
Sources of Energy
- The Municipality is well provided with electricity. More than 60% of the households are electrified, with other areas using gas, paraffin, candles and solar panels. Electricity supply within the municipality is of not acceptable standards. However, provision in the area need to be upgraded especially in rural areas where interruptions of electricity supply occurs. There is a need to improve the current infrastructure to an acceptable level. Certain communities still need to be electrified.
- More than 70% of the population does not have access to refuse removal services and rely on communal dumping areas. Formal waste removal is mostly limited to the formal townships.
- Solid Waste disposal is still a big problem within the municipality. There is a need to identify solid wastes sites in the municipal area.
Local Economic Status
The Municipal area has the smallest economy, limited resource base and contributes the least to the district and the provincial GGP. Agriculture and tourism activities make a meaningful contribution to the local economy, and have a great potential of reducing unemployment within the municipality and create economic growth.
- Tourism has a great potential of creating jobs and stimulation the economic activities of the area, taking into an account its close proximity with the Kruger National Park (KNP), the government nature reserves, i.e. Manyeleti and various renowned private nature reserves such as Mhala- Mhala, Sabie-Sabie located along the boundary of the KNP. The municipal area also falls within the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere, which stretches northwards via Hoedspruit to Tzaneen.
- According to the Tourism Growth and Development Strategy that was conducted by the Department of Finance and Economic Development, 2004, tourism in the area has a competitive advantage and has a potential to contribute significantly towards accelerating growth in the tourism industry.
- Agriculture is closely related with soil types, climate, access to service infrastructure, and access to suitable water both ground and surface water. Agriculture in the municipal area has a strong competitive advantage in terms of the climate, bio diversity and number of dams. But this advantage is impacted by problems associated with it such as droughts, veld fires, and rural/bad farming practices.
- Besides the new initiative to establish a clay brick-making plant in Craighburn which will create 400 jobs, there are no major mining activities in the area, only stone aggregate sand which is used by local people to build their houses.
- During the past political dispensation, the homeland governments had established small industries in areas like Mkhuhlu, Bushbuckridge, Acornhoek and Thulamahashe. Most of the projects have since been abandoned. The municipality has got good transportation network, which if industries could be developed, could work as an advantage to it.