| South Africa|
Malalane (formerly Malelane) is a farming town in Mpumalanga, South Africa situated on the N4 national highway. The farms in the region produce sugarcane, subtropical fruit and winter vegetables. The town was proclaimed in 1949 after which it was named. The origin of the name is disputed but was corrupted from the swazi. Either the expression "eMlalani" which means place of the palms, or the expression "lala" which means to sleep are accepted origins of the name. The town started as the first rest-stop between Lourenco Marques and Pretoria. As of July 2007 the town was officially renamed from "Malelane" to "Malalane" as part of the governments renaming scheme by the South African Geographical Names Council. This peculiar move by the government has been costly to numerous businesses and was met with some confusion as many thought that the name was already a native word.
The Malalane area has a diverse history which includes both farming and tourism based operations. The area was originally a bush area and was known as The Kruger Shooting Concession. Leopard, lion and buffalo were often shot as a sport. In 1926 the area was proclaimed as The Kruger National Park and hunting stopped. The effect of this was minimal as visitors to the area now visited to see the game instead of hunting it. With the formation of the national park a barbed wire fence was erected. This had little effect on the agricultural sector of the region except that animals were now more controlled and were limited in roaming onto farmers crops, although larger game such as buffalo and elephant still strayed onto farms.
In 1942 the government of the Transvaal commissioned a dust road through the area for military use. This road was later tarred. The effect of the road being constructed was that an increase of traffic through the area was experienced. However this had little effect on the local economy as the traffic was primarily passing through to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo). The odd traveller may have stopped at a local shop but the increase in trade had no real impact.
In 1963 the fence bordering the Kruger National Park was upgraded to meet international standards and was proclaimed proficient against the threat of foot and mouth in the park. The migration of larger game was severely restricted. Elephant, buffalo, lion and hippo now had extremely limited access to crops and farmers could invest more into their produce as the threat of them being destroyed was minimal. Cattle were a popular choice as the threat of them being eaten was now much less than before (although it still occurred).
1965 saw the upgrade of the foot and mouth fence. It was now electrified and was known as the Snyman fence. It also saw the construction of the Transvaal Suiker Beperkings (TSB) sugar mill near the Malalane entrance of the Kruger National Park. Naturally this had the effect of mass planting of sugar cane in the area. The area soon began to flourish and was characterised by good sugar production and tourism. The mill still runs to this day and services local farmers. The military road was upgraded again the meet the needs of the area but also to service Eskom operations in the area. This meant easier access for tourists to enter the region and to travel to Mozambique. The upgrade never saw any tangible benefit to farmers except that goods could be transported more easily.
A trend of growth was experienced until 1998 when the road servicing the area was upgraded yet again to a national road status. The road was named the ‘N4’ and became a toll road. A government project was launched which saw significant growth in the area. This was known as the Maputo Corridor. Malelane Gate was then named as one of the main entrances to the Kruger National Park. This led to a drastic increase in tourism in the area and many lodges were established. These include: Malelane Lodge, Pestana Lodge and some bed and breakfasts. The area also saw the establishment of Riverview Primary. Due to the growth big corporations came to the area. Sun International bought Malelane lodge and Spar and Pick n Pay also invested in branches of their retail shops in the area.