Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality - Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality
Overview of the Node
Maluti–A Phofung (MaP) node is situated in the eastern part of the Free State Province. With a total population of about 400 000 people (in year 2000) and it covers an area of approximately 4 421 km². It is one of the five local municipalities of Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality. The node consists of 34 wards. It has three main service centres, namely, Harrismith, Kestell and QwaQwa with Phuthaditjhaba as the town centre.
Harrismith is approximately 60 km north-east of Phuthaditjhaba. Its total population was approximately 33 732 people in 2000. It serves as a service centre for the surrounding rural area. It also serves as a major employment centre for people living in Tshiame and QwaQwa and commuters travel on a daily basis between these areas (Maluti–A-Phofung, 2002).
Kestell is located about 44 km to the west of Harrismith and approximately 30 km to the north of Phuthaditjhaba. Kestell serves as a centre for the predominantly agricultural area. According to MaP's Integrated Development Plan (IDP) this small town has a potential to attract tourists due to its traditional sand stone buildings that are unique to the eastern Free State.
QwaQwa was established as a self-governing territory, as part of the homeland policy of the apartheid system in 1969. It became part of the Free State Province in 1994. QwaQwa serves as the administrative centre for Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality. It has a fair level of infrastructure.
In recent years QwaQwa has experienced an economic decline due to the closure of many industries in the area. This resulted in unacceptably high unemployment rates. For example, in 1996 QwaQwa was recorded to have an unemployment rate of 57%, followed by Harrismith with 49% and Kestell with 29% (Maluti-A-Phofung, 2002). The overall unemployment rate in MaP was estimated at 51% in 2000, (Demarcation Board, 2000). The Demarcation Board further estimated that 69% of all households living in MaP earned less than R1000 per month (53% of which earned less than R500), thus making Maluti-A-Phofung the poorest local municipality in the District. Access to basic services such as clean water is still a major problem in the node. Statistics show that about 16 425 people do not have access to clean water in Harrismith and QwaQwa (Department of Local government and Housing, 2003).
Despite all the socio-economic challenges facing the node, the area has a huge potential for tourism development because of its scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage. If well developed, the tourism industry could go a long way in breaking the cycle of poverty in MaP.
Key Nodal Challenges
The following are key nodal challenges: