The municipality is named after an apartheid stalwart, Raymond Mhlaba (commonly known as Oom Ray). It was established after August through the almagamation of the disestablished Nkonkobe and Nxuba Municipalities with its major towns being Alice, Adelaide, Bedford, Fort Beaufort, Middledrift, Hogsback, Seymour. The municipality is situated along the mountain range of Winterberg (intaba zeNkonkobe). The range is of significance in that many historical events occurred around it, such as the War of the Axe and the War of Maqoma in which the great Xhosa king resisted land dispossession by the British colonialists. During the war he retreated to the peak of the mountain, called Mthontsi (now called Fordyce), where there are caves. It is here that he conducted the Guerrilla Warfare until his capture and imprisonment on Robben Island.
Raymond Mhlaba is a rural municipality and the economy is largely driven by the agricultural sector, which includes citrus, forestry and crop production. The citrus industry is one of the municipality’s largest employers. Forest plantations and timber processing are also undertaken in the area. Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality is well-known for its rich heritage and culture. The historic education institutions of Healdtown, Lovedale College and the University of Fort Hare – are important heritage sites in Raymond Mhlaba but as yet are underutilised as tourism or cultural sites. The tourism sector remains largely unsupported and underexploited in a municipality with iconic natural resources in the form of the Amathole Mountains and national significant heritage sites.