The role of tribal authorities in a democratic KwaZulu-Natal.
This thesis attempts to define the role of tribal authorities in the structures of the democratic government in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. However, the major difficulty lies in the nature of the institution of tribal authorities itself. In African tradition, leadership is hereditary. It is not subject to any electoral process. Besides this, the hereditary process is fundamentally male primogeniture and by nature excludes women. This contradicts the principles of democracy and the bill of rights which the democratic government of South Africa has adopted. Nevertheless, the institution of tribal authorities is not new in South Africa. It has existed and worked hand in hand with previous governments in South Africa since the period of the British colonial rule in the early 19th century. During the apartheid era, tribal authorities served as the local government in the rural areas of the KwaZulu Bantustan. Chiefs only lost this status after the formation of the Government of National Unity in 1994. However, most chiefs still have great influence and respect among the traditional people who live in rural areas. Besides this, among the Zulus, the institution of tribal authorities symbolizes Zulu nationalism and culture. Because of their closeness to the people at the grassroots, chiefs have good relationships with different political parties, particularly the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress. Probably they are seen by these political parties as potential allies and agents for political mobilization and recruitment in rural tribal areas. Consequently, abandoning the institution of tribal authorities in the democratic dispensation is unrealistic and irresponsible. To meet the political realities of KwaZulu-Natal, a certain form of representation in the structures of democratic government at both the provincial and local levels needs to be given to the institution of tribal authorities as part of the democratization process, and also as a means of expanding the scope of democracy in rural areas. This also fulfils one of the precepts of democracy which entails including all the concerned groups of people in a society, irrespective of colour, creed, sex, race, tradition and culture. Nevertheless, to achieve this, some adjustment is necessary to make possible the incorporation of the institution of tribal authorities in the structures of the democratic government. How can this institution be accommodated? What will the status and position of chiefs be in these structures? What will be their new role? How well can democratically elected structures work with non-elected ones? Is the inclusion of tribal authorities in the democratic government not going to conceptualize ethnicity? In other words, does ethnicity have any room in South Africa's democratic dispensation? To address these questions, this thesis assesses a number of aspects, which include examining the role chiefs played in the previous government, their relationships with the people, the Bantustan government and Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe, and other political parties especially in the democratic dispensation. The thesis also examines legislation passed by the Government of National Unity, as well as the constitutional proposals of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the African National Congress and other political parties in the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal concerning the role of tribal authorities.