EASTERN TSHWANE: BRONKHORSTSPRUIT, EKANDUSTRIA, EKANGALA AND RETHABISENG
Our third case study in Gauteng includes the fragmented settlements and small towns on the eastern edge of Tshwane – in particular the small town of Bronkhorstpruit and the Ekandustria industrial estate, both industrial decentralisation points under apartheid, and the townships of Ekangala and Rethabiseng close to Ekandustria. This area has only recently been incorporated into Tshwane, and into Gauteng. The area provides interesting insight into foreign investment on the periphery; the dynamics of past industrial decentralisation points; the significance of changing municipal and provincial boundaries; the effects of economic fluctuation and governance changes. A summary of the area is well-captured in Peberdy et al. (2017) - the GCRO and SA&CP study on Gauteng's peripheries:
Bronkhorstspruit lies 61 km to the east of Pretoria, along the N4 East. Bronkhorstspruit was historically a small agricultural service centre, but under apartheid rule, the Ekandustria industrial estate was established to provide an economic base for the KwaNdebele homeland, and the townships of Ekangala, Zithobeni and Rethabiseng were established to house the people who worked in the estate and the town. In the post-apartheid era, the urban complex was initially fragmented institutionally with Ekangala falling under Mpumalanga and the remainder of the area within Gauteng. The entire area has since been consolidated within Gauteng, however. The area also initially fell under district and local municipalities, but it has recently been incorporated into the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. In 2011, the population of this urban cluster was 94 362, 50.6 per cent greater than in 2001, a significant growth. The major concentrations of people were in Ekangala (48 493), Zithobeni (22 435) and Bronkhorstspruit proper (12 468). A new middle to upper-income extension of Bronkhorstspruit has developed around the Bronkhorstspruit Dam, close to the site of the construction of the Kusile power station. The local economy was relatively small, with a 2013 GVA of R8.2 billion. The largest sector was manufacturing, followed by retail, but this excludes the GVA produced from the construction of Kusile. - Peberdy, Harrison and Dinath (2017, p. 277).
In the immediate post-apartheid era, Ekandustria declined as subsidies were withdrawn. However the area experienced a revival from around 2008 to 2014 with some new investments, but our research from 2017 showed economic decline, with firms closing or moving out due to the area’s poor location and the skills available in the area. Water has also been a constraint to development. The research showed the very high levels of unemployment in the area, and the difficulty residents found in accessing work in the area. Government’s Industrial Revitalisation Programme, which aims to improve infrastructure and security in old homeland industrial areas, has recently been introduced in the area, but may not be sufficient to turn around industrial decline. Our research looked at the older residential township of Ekangala, the more recent largely RDP Rethabiseng, and the informal settlement Phumekaya.