Research into factors influencing the economic upliftment of the uMhlabuyalingana Municipality.
The post 1994 dispensation brought about the introduction of developmental local government whereby municipalities are duty bound by constitutional clauses to enhance their local economies. The development paradigm created a new euphoria in distant localities amongst poor and vulnerable rural and urban communities. The establishment of Local Economic Development units in virtually all municipalities was a direct pursuit of local developmental agenda. This study assesses and critiques the little shortcomings of local economic development in the area. An approach embedded in this study is to examine the role played by various stakeholders in local economic development. The concept of local economic development in this study is not viewed in isolation from infrastructural development. An intensive investigation of infrastructural backlogs was undertaken to determine whether the Umhlabuyalingana municipality has invested enough towards its economic viability. Through rigorous engagement with the IDP, the researcher was able to ascertain whether there is a synergy between local economic development programmes/projects and the integrated development plan of the municipality. The data generated through intensive fieldwork was analyzed and interpreted to give impetus to the discourse of local economic development. The qualitative findings of the study reveal that local entrepreneurs are still faced with daunting problems and obstacles in starting their own businesses. Funding and the lack of support from well established business organizations and political leadership were also cited as the stumbling blocks towards progression. The results also reveal that development in the area is top down as opposed to bottom up and as a result communities do not own decisions. Despite the negatives, there is significant progress noted in the area of projects that are linked to development which are abundant in the area. Lastly, the quantitative results clearly depict that local economic development has had an adverse effect on communities depending on their age, gender, educational qualification and income.