The role of traditional leaders in rural local government : a case of Vulindlela and Impendle traditional areas.
Dlungwana, Mthandeni Eric.
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Approximately three-quarters of the population in South Africa live in rural areas and are under the governance of traditional leadership, whose practice has been the source of controversy in the post-apartheid era. The institution of traditional leadership has been historically regarded as the main ruling system closest to and accepted by the people at grassroots level. The aim of this research is to investigate the role of traditional leaders in local government in the Vulindlela and Impendle areas, Pietermaritzburg. The objective is to present a historical overview of the role of traditional leaders and to analyse the role traditional leaders have to play in development. The research examines whether the tension between traditional leaders and municipal councillors hinder development to the masses in Vulindlela and Impendle areas. The methodology adopted for this study was a qualitative research approach, which was used to analyse the roles played by traditional leaders in rural local government development. The main findings of the study reveal that traditional leaders and authorities are essential political, social and economic structures for maintaining the socio-political order that is a prerequisite for rural development. Any endeavor to create a full democratic society in South Africa must utilize the intrinsic strengths of traditional leaders. The institution of traditional leaders should be transformed to move with the times. Many traditional leaders accept the role they have to play as part of the new order as well as the resulting challenge associated with the process of transformation. In principle, traditional authorities should not be drawn into party politics and their role should remain one of neutral leadership. Traditional authorities are seen in their communities as the institutional form of government closest to the people and therefore need to be preserved.