|Free State Districts Overview|
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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