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Free State Province
Free State Districts Overview PDF Print E-mail

This centrally located province is divided into five districts, namely:

Fezile Dabi District Municipality

The Fezile Dabi District Municipality is situated within the northern portion of the Free State with the major towns being Kroonstad, Parys and Sasolburg and Vredefort. The main attraction site, the Vredefort Dome, being the third largest Meteorite site in the world, is located within the district.

The district is home to about 17,3% of the population in the province and the area is considered to be the strategic agricultural region, producing a considerable share of South Africa’s grain crop. The district is the only area in the province where manufacturing is the main contributing sector to the district’s economy.

The economic production trend of the Free State and Fezile Dabi follow a similar trend. Both experienced a 3,3% GDP growth rate during 2007 with the district contributing a massive 20.2% to the Free State GDP in 2007. During 2007 the following sectors contributed to the economy of the Fezile Dabi:

  • Manufacturing
  • Community Services
  • Finance Sector

The district’s economy is very concentrated, especially in the manufacturing sector, and thus very vulnerable to external economic fluctuations. Fezile Dabe accounted for 69,3% of the exports from the Free State and the location of SASOL is greatly significant in this context. Coke and refined petroleum products, followed by basic chemicals, are the main products/commodities exported by the manufacturing sector.

Lejweleputswa District Municipality

The Lejweleputswa district, predominantly known as the Goldfields of Free State, has about 23.2% of the province’s total population. Mining is the largest contributor to the district’s economy, followed by agriculture. The predominant mineral mined in the district is gold, with the main agricultural produce being maize. The district is home to towns like Brandfort, Bothaville, Hennenman, Welkom, Ventersburg, Virginia, Winburg, Theunissen, and Odendaalsrus.

Lejweleputswa’s GDP growth trend is more volatile that the Free State as a whole, and can possibly be explained by the volatility of the mining sector (gold price). The mining sector is the main contributing sector for the district, contributing 31%. The district contributes 23.8% to the Free States total GDP, making it the second largest contributor of the five District Municipalities.

The dominant exporting sector in the district is manufacturing, followed by agriculture. The main exported commodities of the manufacturing sector are plastic products followed by basic chemicals.

Motheo District Municipality

Although none of the five districts has been consistently larger than the other in terms of population, Motheo district is considered to be the largest with 27.4% share of the total population in the province. The district is home to the capital of the province – Bloemfontein, also known as the “City of Roses”. The city is regarded as the business and central hub of the province.

Motheo District includes the densely populated Mangaung Muncipality which further comprises of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Zastron and ThabaNchu. The dominant sectors in the Motheo district are Wholesale, Retail & Trade; Finance, Real Estate & Business Services; Transport & Communication; and Community & Social Services sectors. There are also agriculture and mining activities in the district that contributes to the district’s economy.

Motheo District’s economic production trend is less volatile and is the largest contributor to the Free State economy, contributing 36.9% of the Province’s total GDP. Community Services, Finance and transport and communications are the leading contributors to the Motheo district economy.

Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality

Thabo Mofutsanyane has about 26.8% share of Free State population. The district covers the eastern part of the province and it borders Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal Province. The district is known for its tourist attractions such as the Drakensburg and Maluti Mountain ranges, with the most famous attraction being the Golden Gate Highland National Park. Although the district seems to be well known as a tourist destination, agriculture in the district is the biggest contributor to the province’s economy. Some of the well known towns in the district include Clarens, Ficksburg, Harrismith, and QwaQwa.

The district is the second smallest contributor to the Free State’s GDP with Community Services, financial services and wholesale, retail and trade being the main contributing sectors. The district furthermore, has the second smallest annual importing and exporting value for the five districts.

The export trend of the district has however been increasingly gradually since 2004/05. The dominant exporting sector is the manufacturing sector followed by the agricultural sector. The main commodities are ‘other chemicals’, and man-made fibres, followed by basic chemicals.

Xhariep District Municipality

The Xhariep district, previously called Gariep by the indigenous Khoikhoi people, houses the well known Gariep dam, with accommodation and leisure facilities mainly focused on water spots. The district is the smallest compared to the other four districts with about 5.2% share of the total provincial population. Most of economic activity in the district is in the agricultural sector followed by mining, especially of diamonds in the Letsemeng municipal area. Some of the well known towns in the district include Jagersfontein, Koffiefontein, Reddersburg and Trompsburg.

Xhariep is the only district municipality where the agricultural sector is the dominant exporting sector. The main commodities/products exported by the manufacturing sector are beverages, wearing apparel, glass and glass products.

Spin offs from diamonds mined at Koffiefontein contribute a major portion of the local economy. The farming industry is varied with an irrigation scheme at Jacobsdal producing crops such as grapes, potatoes, maize, groundnuts, while cattle and sheep farming dominates the Luckhoff and Koffiefontein areas. Around Petrusburg there is mostly mixed farming with potatoes and maize being the main crops. In Oppermansgronds vineyards produce significant income for the town.

The Orange River, a 2 000 km long river, forms a natural border between Xhariep and the Cape. The country’s only two hydro-electric power stations are situated on the Orange River, at the Xhariep and Vanderkloof dams.

Sheep and ostrich farming are some of the predominant activities in the Xhariep region. Other activities include wine-making (Landzicht, Free State Distillers); and the production of pottery, arts and craft products, agricultural machinery etc.

The region also boasts opportunities in leather tanning and finishing, spirulina production, cultivation of plants for medicinal, essential oil, cosmetics and culinary use. With dams such as Xhariep and Vanderkloof the region has tremendous tourism potential