History of Ugu District

History and information about the Ugu District Municipality area.

Geographical Location

The Ugu District Municipality is located on the southernmost part of the KwaZulu Natal province. It is located on the border between KZN and Eastern provinces. The Ugu nodal area covers approximately 5866 kilometre square, and has a population of approximately 687 735. This District municipality comprises of six local municipalities namely: Umuziwabantu, Ezinqoleni, Umzumbe, Umdoni, Hibiscus Coast and Vulamehlo.

The spatial pattern of Ugu District municipality resembles a “T” shape where areas along the coast have a well developed infrastructure and thus a reasonable economic growth, whereas the hinterland is characterized by the poor infrastructural provision and a high unemployment levels. The biggest towns in the area are Port Shepstone followed by Margate, and these towns are the tourism centers of the area. Scottburgh's town is the third most popular tourists area. Port Shepstone remains the major employment centre in the area. There are other rural towns which act as administration centres in the rural areas.

The infrastructural backlogs in the area is very high, but the most affected people are the rural communities in the hinterland. There is lack of access to economic opportunities and social services. There is also a high level of unemployment in the node. The unemployment level within Ugu District municipality is currently estimated at 30%. The majority of the people within this node are employed in the domestic industry, tourism industry, sugar cane and banana farms in the area. The manufacturing sector also contributes a little in the development of the area and it is concentrated in the Port Sheptsone area, however there are certain industrial areas that are scattered in other parts of the District.

Key Nodal Challenges

The challenges that are highlighted below are generic within the district. In other words they do not only represent context that are peculiar to certain municipalities within the node. It is important to highlight the fact that the focus below will only be on key nodal challenges and the list below is not exhaustive.

  • Shortage of basic services - There is an acute shortage of basic services across the rural hinterland whilst urban areas are relatively well serviced.
  • Capacity and resource shortage – All municipalities within the District municipality have an acute staff shortage to implement the municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). In most cases there is no IDP Manager, and the Municipal Managers are acting as IDP Managers. There is a shortage of funding for the implementation of IDP projects that were identified by the communities. This is partly caused by the fact that most municipalities do not have a strong rates base. They largely rely on government departments and the District municipality for funding. This capacity shortage forces them to rely on the consultants who tend to leave the municipality once they have completed their task without any skills transfer.
  • Poor understanding of the IDPs by the Councilors and the community members – Some Councilors within the municipalities of Ugu still submit projects to their respective municipalities for implementation, if those projects falls outside the municipal IDPs. Some projects are implemented without the Councils being aware of them, and definitely outside of the IDPs. This proves that Councilors still battle to understand the IDP process.
  • Government Departments and Development Agencies still operate outside of the IDPs- Some government departments still do their work outside of the municipal IDPs. In some instances the municipality discovers about the project during the site identification stage.
  • Some IDPs are urban biased – this is due to the lack of participation by the rural communities in the IDP preparation (please refer to the above section on institutional dynamics)
  • Poor participation of Service providers in their IDP – This manifests itself in the form of junior staff members being sent to the IDP Forum meetings. Most municipalities do not send any representatives at all and this has far reaching implication when it comes to integration and co-ordination.
  • Lack of internal co-ordination – Most municipalities within Ugu do not implement projects in an integrated manner. This means, there is no co-ordination of activities between various departments within the municipalities. For example, if the IDP is the responsibility of the management services within the municipality, it is therefore regarded as one of the sectoral plans that need to be implemented by the Management services within the municipality. Therefore certain departments within the municipality implement projects without adhering to the IDP priorities.
  • Poor participation by ordinary community members on development issues – In some municipalities there are no ward committees and other relevant structures that could be used to communicate information to ordinary community members. This leads to a situation where the needs of the ordinary community members are not well articulated in the municipal IDPs.

Municipal Services Delivered

The Ugu District Municipality is responsible for providing water services in all six of the local municipalities within the district. Although it only took over sanitation from July 1, 2003, it managed sewer plants in the Hibiscus Coast Municipality during the reporting year. Not only does it provide water services, but it is also responsible for providing the related infrastructure to extend this service.

In its Community Based Public Works programme during the year 2002/2003, Ugu developed five access roads, a community hall, informal trading stalls, a multi-purpose centre, three taxi ranks, two schools, a bakery, a sports field and an arts and crafts centre. Also built was the Harding Sports Centre in Umuziwabantu. Some of the funding for this project came from the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme (CMIP). Other CMIP-funded projects were street lighting in three areas, four cemeteries, four access roads, a service centre, an access bridge and a taxi rank.

The municipality has also established a tourism authority that markets the entire district as a package, rather than municipalities doing it individually. The Ugu Tourism Marketing Association was a brainchild of this initiative and many activities have been organised, including a weeklong coverage of the entire district on SABC2's Morning Live programme in respect of the Sardine Run. Currently the focus of this initiative is urban based and rural local municipalities need to benefit from it.

Resident Population Demographics

Approximately 16 percent of the population is located within the urban coastal strip, which is four to 10km wide. The balance of 84 percent resides in the rural areas, which are characterised by a low density and dispersed settlement pattern.

Approximately 50 percent of the population falls between the 15 to 64-year age group. Fifty-four percent of the population is female and 46 percent male. The demographic profile calls for initiatives targeting women-headed households. An important aspect of this profile is that it reflects a cohort that is more vulnerable to HIV/Aids, crime and violence. The population distribution by race is 89 percent African, one percent Coloured, three percent Asian and five percent White.

According to national records, the district is growing at a rate of less than one percent. While this can be attributed to a number of factors, including emigration, the impact of HIV/Aids cannot be ignored. This slow growth rate is expected to continue for at least the next eight years.

As a result of the distribution of natural and economic resources, there is a noticeable uneven development within the district. High-density settlements are found in coastal areas and at mission stations, industrial and commercial centres, while in rural/traditional areas, where the majority of people live, settlements vary from 120,21 to 368,29 people per square kilometer.

Ugu District Municipality: Investment Profile

The Ugu District (also known as the KwaZulu-Natal south coast) is a microcosm of South Africa. The IsiZulu word "Ugu" means "coast". It is situated to the south of Durban, with 120km of coast-line running from Scottburgh in the north to Port Edward in the south and extending 150km inland beyond the town Harding. It incorporates some of the best examples of unspoiled sub-tropical bushland and forest in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as cultivated land and small rural villages, contrasted by bustling urban centres and major industrial complexes.

Ugu has a thriving manufacturing sector, with some 235 industries supporting a consistently higher growth rate than the rest of KwaZulu-Natal. As an agricultural stronghold, Ugu has been growing and milling much of the nation's sugar since the 1890s. One fifth of all the bananas eaten in South Africa are produced here, and tea has grown for more than decade.
With a total population of approximately 700 000, it offers a considerable local market as well as a pool of increasingly skilled personnel, with access to approximately 640 established primary and high schools and a number of tertiary education institutions.
A vibrant economic climate and an agglomeration of six local municipality’s intent on maintaining growth and stability make Ugu a prime area for investment.

Economic development issues

The key sectors of the Ugu district economy can be categorised as: Agriculture, Manufacturing, Community Service, Construction, Trade & Tourism, The "informal sector", and Transport. The economic profile of the district as informed by the local economic regeneration study which states that Community Services contributes 34% of GGVA, Trade 16.7%, Manufacturing 12.8%, Transport 10% Finance 11.3% and Agriculture 8%. In 1996,Manufacturing contributed 15% to GGVA. There has been a reduction in the manufacturing sector in the past nine years. Trade has decreased from 18.2% in 1996 to 16.7% in 2002.

Agriculture has decreased from 8.8% to 8%. Community services have increased from 30.2% in 1996 to 34% in 2002.
Finance has increased from 9.7 % in 1996 to 11.3% in 2002 and Transport has increased from 8.4% to 10% in 2002 (Adapted Data GI 1996-2002).

Port Shepstone is the main commercial centre and major source of employment. Tourism is also a major economic activity
in the district and is based on the sea and associated activities. Most tourist facilities are found along the coastal corridor.
Priority issues from the district perspective The demographics show a noticeable uneven development within the district. On the one hand there is a noticeably rural urban divide coupled with high levels of poverty in rural areas. The causes of rural poverty are very complex and are a mixture of various forces. Basic to poverty in the Ugu district is access to basic services; health services, employment, and land.

The Ugu district municipal vision elements relating to addressing imbalance of the past and service provision needs to be translated into substantial development strategies in order to address these challenges. Listed below are the district’s development priorities:

  • Provision of basic services and infrastructure
  • Promoting and enhancing local economic development
  • Ensuring integrated sustainable rural development
  • Management, maintenance and expansion of water and sewerage schemes
  • Decrease HIV infection, progression to aids and caring for the affected
  • Speeding land reform programme
  • Tourism development and marketing and broadening access in the industry
  • Institutional development
  • Special focus for youth, women and disabled

Poverty alleviation

In order to create employment within the Ugu district strong emphasis has been placed on the sustainability of program
implementation. The district currently utilizes the Preferential Procurement Policy framework in order to ensure preference
is given to historically disadvantaged and local service providers. In cases where capacity cannot be found in the district, we then look to the rest of the Province. The current Expanded Public Works program is being viewed as an implementation tool to ensure capacity is created and maintained within the district.

Local Economic Development

The district is currently focusing on the agriculture and tourism industry being the two main strengths to ensure job creation.
The district has successfully launched a fresh produce market and its implementation is underway. The Ugu fresh produce
market will ensure that small growers and subsistence farmers are capacitated and have a market to be able to convert spare crops into cash. The district envisages training and capacitating a minimum of 300 new farmers, packers and traders per annum for the next five years.

In order to boost the tourism potential of the district the focus has moved towards the 2010 Soccer World Cup and beyond. The district is hoping to host at least one participating team, thereby creating an environment to boost the tourism industry. December 2004 saw the launch of the South Coast Music Festival. Famous internationally acclaimed stars such as Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove, Miriam Makeba, Mandoza and many more graced the stage to launch what is expected to become an annual festival that will attract thousands of visitors to the district.

Basic services


The district is currently providing water to 60% of the population and the infrastructure extension rate currently stands at 6% per annum. Other initiatives of providing water to the communities, like spring protection and boreholes are also explored as interim measures.


In terms of sanitation there are two initiatives, one is addressing backlogs in the areas where sanitation was not provided before as part of basic services and in the developed coastal areas we are currently rehabilitating and refurbishing existing infrastructure.


The District will raise the level of education by improving the teaching capacity and quality of schools. Projects include prioritising schools that need basic infrastructural improvements, water provision and establishing a technical training and skills centre in Umzumbe.

Health care

Primary health care services will focus on the needs of women, children and the disabled. General projects include the
establishment of 24-hour emergency services, feeding schemes, and care programmes for street children, the elderly, the disabled and substance abusers. A specific objective is a District-wideintegrated HIV & AIDS strategy which aims at prevention, care for the affected and infected and awareness programmes.

Roads and transportation

The District is characterized by a good road network system. The District plans to strengthen road and rail networks and
develop a public transport system. A specific project is this regard is the formulation of the district’s public transport plant
in partnership with the Department of Transport.

Municipal Demarcation Board Code: DC21
Local municipalities under Ugu District Municipality: Ezinqoleni Municipality, Hibiscus Coast Municipality, Umdoni Municipality, Umuziwabantu Municipality, Umzumbe Municipality, Vulamehlo
Local Municipality
Location of head office: Port Shepstone is 133 km south-east of Kokstad and 130 km south-west of Durban
Municipal area (km2): 5866 km2
Population: 704 028
Urban population 6%
Rural population 84%
Female population 54%
Male population 46%
No of households: 150 613
No of traditional authorities: 54
Extent of traditional authority land: 3450 km2
Extent of private and state land: 2415 km2
No of councillors: Females: 9 Males: 25

Profile of Ugu Family of Municipalities

Municipal status: The re-demarcation of Ugu District created three new municipalities, however, the outer boundary has
remained largely unchanged. Hibiscus Coast Local Municipality is a consolidation of five former Transitional Local Councils.
All municipalities, including the new ones, have organisational structures and systems in place. A Capacity Support Programme (CSP) was launched in the three new municipalities with respect to corporate, technical, financial and human resource management services with success.

Finance and grants: The financial situation of municipalities in this District is sound. The two largest councils (Ugu and Hibiscus) show a slight decrease in the recovery of debt, however, in each, the debt figure increased from R34 to R35 million and R58 to R78 million respectively.

The three newly established local municipalities have no ability to generate their own income and are entirely dependent
on Provincial and National grant funding. The rest have a dependency of less than 30% on grant funding.

Integrated Development Planning (IDP): All municipalities submitted their 2002 IDP’s and their 2003 Review to the MEC
who noted substantial improvements to the original IDP document. They have started working on their 2005/2006 IDP
Review to refine elements and to further facilitate compliance with the Municipal Systems Act.

Land development frameworks and systems: The District Municipality has established a good Geographic Information
System and is supporting local municipalities. All municipalities have prepared initial Spatial Development
Frameworks and guidelines for land development and management. All six municipalities have begun preparing “wall
to wall” land use management systems in order to facilitate the appropriate development of land.

Service delivery: This District is the second most densely populated district area in the Province at an overall density of
145 people living per square kilometre. There is a large backlog regarding the provision of water with more than 70% of the population not having access. The District has made available R124 million for this service. Forty percent of the District has access to RDP standard sanitation. A budget of R40 million was provided for this service. For the provision of electricity there is a backlog of 50% within the district and only 20% of the population has access to refuse removal. This function was allocated to all municipalities. A collective amount of R16 million was made available in the budget for the provision of refuse removal. There is no date for implementing free basic electricity. However, once clarified, R2 million has been collectively provided for the provision of free basic electricity. There has been no progress for the provision of free basic sanitation but the district has provided 22% of the number of beneficiaries with free basic water.

Local Economic Development (LED): The unemployment rate is estimated at 23%. More than 80% of the total number of
households earns less than R1 600 a month. The securing of funding for LED strategies remains a challenge.

Priority issues to receive further attention: The key departments of Strategic Planning and Finance need to be strengthened in most municipalities. Serious attention needs to be paid to reduce their financial dependency on Provincial and National grant funding. Debt recovery is becoming a serious problem and must be addressed. The District has to concentrate on reducing backlogs in basic service delivery and the roll-out of free basic water needs to be fast-tracked. The eradication of poverty and reduction in unemployment are major challenges to be addressed.

Institutional Arrangements

Ugu District Municipality is governed by a 34-member Municipal Council whose day-to-day operations are delegated to a full-time Executive Committee comprising six members. The Municipal Manager, Mr. Khayo E Mpungose, heads the administration and is the municipality's accounting officer. It is his responsibility to report to Exco and advise on the daily operations of the municipality. Exco is chaired by the Mayor, Cllr S B Cele, Cllr V L Ntanza serves as Deputy Mayor and R R Pillay is the speaker of the Municipal Council.


A road building programme has cut traveling time to Durban to approximately one hour from the southern most part of the district. The national route, N2, comprising a toll route and non-tolled alternatives, serves as link with the Wild Coast and the Eastern Cape and also further afield to Johannesburg and the port of Richards Bay.
A network of secondary metalled roads links smaller communities to the busy coastal belt.
The railway line from Durban to Port Shepstone offers an alternative for the movement of heavy goods and passengers. The standard gauge line is supplemented by a narrow gauge line from Port Shepstone to Harding, mainly for transport of agricultural products and timber.

Margate airport provides an air link with the rest of the sub-continent. The airport has an all weather runway that is suitable for aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 727 - and international standard air traffic control.
Electricity is available throughout the district via Eskom national grid and the high level of rainfall ensures there is an abundance of water.


The Ugu coastline is the second most popular tourism destination in KwaZulu-Natal. The district's excellent sporting facilities, notably its golf courses, are internationally known and host a number of international events. One leisure resort in the district has conducted a feasibility study which has shown that an investment in a golf course of approximately R2 million would garner some R560 000 a year net profit.

The Ugu district features sites that are suitable for ecologically balanced development to meet the demands of local and foreign travelers.
A 10 000 ha tract has been identified in tribal trust areas as suitable for a game farm and leisure development.

Forestry and Timber

Due to South Africa's climatic conditions, trees grow four to eight times more quickly than they do in the northern hemisphere. Expansion of the forestry and timber industry in the Ugu district means adding value by manufacturing timber products such as doors, windows and furniture and the like. There are a number of businesses successfully exporting timber products of high quality (to ISO9000 standards) and taking advantage of the exchange rates. The Ugu district produces some 195 000 tons of pine a year in addition to the 1755 million tons of gum and wattle used by a major pulp mill. There are about 200 sawmills operating and producing approximately 6 000 tons of board a year.


The Ugu district's climate is excellent for agriculture. Tea growing, cut flowers, nuts, sugar and banana cultivation are examples. These are a number of businesses successfully exporting to some of the most exclusive packers in the United Kingdom.

Fishing & Diving

Scuba diving is popular in the district and represents an opportunity for investment, as there are a number of world class dive sites just offshore, namely Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks.


The Ugu district is in close proximity to markets in Durban, as well as neighbouring districts in the Eastern Cape. The proximity to Durban port links the district to the global market.
Ugu has the only 'marble' delta within the KwaZulu-Natal province, mined for cement and calcium carbonate. There are also firms that manufacture clothing, textiles, metal products, food and beverages and wood products.
The commitment of local municipalities within the district to job creation and economic growth is visible in proactive steps to encourage investment. The availability of housing, education, health & recreational facilities all contribute to an advantageous lifestyle. Amenities include internationally acclaimed golf courses, cinemas, social services and large shopping malls.

Above information researched from the internet, and provided for informational purposes only. We do our best to provide accurate information, however no guarantee is made as to the accuracy of anything on this website. Please report errors.

Last Updated (Friday, 21 March 2008 10:30)

Weather Forecast: