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The Metsimaholo Local Municipality is located in the Northern Free State. The geographical area of the municipality is 1717.0680 square kilometers. Metsimaholo means “big water” in Sesotho, due to the abundance of this resource in the area. It was formerly known as the Sasolburg Municipality. The three major towns that form part of Metsimaholo are Sasolburg (the municipal head office), Oranjeville, and Deneysville.

The total number of persons in the Metsimaholo Local Municipality is 154 658. The number of households is estimated as having increased from 32 360 (Census 2001) to 37 320. The municipality covers an area of 171709.6ha of which 45% has remained natural habitat. There are no formal land-based protected areas or RAMSAR sites in the municipality.

There are two biomes, namely Grassland and Savanna. Five vegetation types are found in the municipality. There is one endangered ecosystem in the municipality, namely Deneysville Highveld Grassland. There are also two vulnerable ecosystems in the Metsimaholo Municipality. These are the Eastern Temperate Freshwater Wetlands and Soweto Highveld Grassland. The freshwater ecosystems in the municipality are characterised by one water management area, namely the Upper Vaal. Five rivers run through the municipality and wetlands cover 13% of the Metsimaholo Municipality.

The main contributors to local economic development in the area are the largest contributor to the GDP of the municipality agricultural activities are by far the most productive link in the economic chain in the region. The key agricultural crops are maize and groundnuts, with developmental activities and emerging farmers being encouraged through various government programmes. Livestock accounts for a number of emerging and developed farming activities. The agricultural sector provides immediate downstream support to various other sectors as well. Coal mining is the primary mining activity and this spurred the growth of various other industries such as the petro-chemical sector headquartered in the Sasolburg area. Maize farming recently became a major contributor to the petro-chemical industry as a source for synthetic bio fossil fuels.

Sasol South Africa, the largest producer of synthetic fuels on the sub-continent, is well positioned and provides countless jobs to the local communities. It was also instrumental in the development of key entrepreneurial initiatives in conjunction with the local authorities. Providing much support, especially in the cosmetics industry, Sasol’s Chem City division assists emerging entrepreneurs in the start-up and facilitation process of the chemical industries around the area.

With agriculture forging closer ties with the leisure tourism industry, there have been significant initiatives that potentially position the tourism market to be one of the major forerunners in economic activity in the future. Many emerging and existing farms have been converted into game farms where all or most of the big five have become tourism attractions.

This, coupled with excellent new golfing developments and the construction of golf courses on the banks of the Vaal River, public-private partnerships have been implemented to boost the growth for tourism in the region. The Vaal River, itself a playground for those from nearby Johannesburg, has boosted the economic potential in the region and the Metsimaholo area has become a weekend playground for affluent Gauteng residents.
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