Geography, History & Economy
Mkhondo Local Municipality is part of Gert Sibande District Municipality.
MDB code: MP303
Description: The Mkhondo Local Municipality is a Category B municipality situated within the Gert Sibande District in the Mpumalanga Province. It is a gateway to the province from KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland. It is ideally situated halfway between the Gauteng metropolis (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the Natal coast (Richards Bay and Durban). It is one of the seven municipalities in the district.
The municipality amalgamated two former Transitional Local Councils and two Transitional Rural Councils – the historic towns of Piet Retief and Amsterdam. It is the main link for both industrial and commercial transport from Gauteng to the import/export harbour at Richards Bay.
Piet Retief, now known as eMkhondo, is surrounded by forestry and plantations. Much of its economy originates from these sources. Three major sawmills, Mondi, Tafibra and PG Bison, are located just outside of eMkhondo. These play a crucial role in boosting a well-diversified economy, and the other components of manufacturing, personal services, real estate and tourism.
Amsterdam/KwaThandeka and its rural nodes in the Mkhondo municipal area are fundamentally agricultural and have forestry support. Mondi, Sappi, TWK and Komati Land Forests are the major companies that lead the forestry industry in the area. Several scattered pockets of mining are found in the municipal area of jurisdiction.
Natural conservation and tourist activities also contribute towards the socio-economic conditions of the municipality. A number of South African Heritage Sites are found within the municipality. These include the Entombe Battlefield, Rooikraal, Confidence, Kalkoenvlakte and Heyshope Dam. The Morgestond and Athole Nature Reserves and Amsterdam Conservation are two sites managed by the Mpumalanga Parks Board.
Area: 4 882km²
Cities/Towns: Amsterdam, eMkhondo (Piet Retief)
Main Economic Sectors: Forestry, agriculture, transport, mining