Brief history of Emalahleni Local Municipality

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Emalahleni Local Municipality was formed in December 2000 after the first Local Government elections. To form the municipality three Transitional Local Councils (TLCs) merged, namely, Dordrecht, Indwe and Lady Frere (Cacadu).


Emalahleni Local Municipality falls under the jurisdiction of the Chris Hani District Municipality and is situated in the North-East region of the Eastern Cape Province. The seat of the municipality is Lady Frere (Cacadu). The municipal area extends over an area of approximately 3 840 square kilometers, it includes more than 200 rural villages, and comprises of sixteen wards. This consists of private farms in the northern area of the municipality, south of Dordrecht and North of Indwe. The settlement pattern is that of dispersed private farms, where commercial farming is practiced. The rest of the municipality was previously part of the former Transkei. The settlement pattern in this part of the municipality is predominantly of the dispersed “traditional’’ rural village settlement type, where subsistence-farming practices (pastoral and dry land cultivation) are the dominant forms of land use activity, apart from the residential function of these areas.


It is important to note that the spatially fragmented settlement pattern of the study area is the result of different political historical factors, as well as administrative and ideological based development initiatives, implemented in the area over the last century. The former Transkei area of Emalahleni Municipality was administered by the Emigrant Tembuland Regional Authority, with its seat at Qamata, and the Magisterial District of Cacadu with its seat in Lady Frere as well as the following tribal authorities, with their seats in parentheses:


  • Gcina (Glen Adelaide)
  • Hala (Mbizane)
  • Mhlontlo (Maqhashu)
  • Nonesi (Matyantya)

Historical these independent homeland areas were viewed as important productive areas in the South African economic space.

Their roles were rather seen as providing migrant labour to the Republic of South Africa, while ensuring that dependents remain settled within the homeland. For many years, therefore, these areas received little investment in infrastructure and services. At the same time the Group Areas Act and associated legislation in the former RSA restricted opportunities for them to move from independent homelands to the South African urban centres. As a result, these homelands experienced increased rural population densities, and an annual cycle of migration that took a large number of men and woman out of the areas for periods up to 10 months. This, to a large extent is the case, but families are migrating to job opportunities even in Cape Town and Gauteng in increased numbers. However, because of a lack of research it is not known to what extent, and in what form, migration is occurring. A further outcome of this is that, today, many people in these areas are regarded and termed “rural” because they have some form of residential right and , in some instances, have access to arable lands in rural areas. Yet most of the people have no real option but to retain their rural base, even though their resources of income (pensions, welfare grants and earnings from migrant labour in urban centres) and the nature of the services they demand ( access to shops, social facilities and services, water, electricity, transport, telephones and recreation facilities) are all essentially urban in nature. The balance of Emalahleni Municipality area is made up of former RSA magisterial districts, which were administered under the Stormberg Regional Services Council. These areas include the commercial farming districts of Dordrecht and Indwe.