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Assessing the roles of traditional leadership in land-use planning and municipal governance in Nquthu Local Municipality.

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26 years of rectifying spatial injustices; South Africa still faces the adverse effects resulting from apartheid planning. Nel (2016) asserted that “South African settlements are still spatially fragmented with a high degree of spatial exclusion”. This is mainly reflected to the nature of law our country applies in terms of LUM where dual land use management systems apply. To such extent, there has been a massive debate and conflict surrounding the roles played by traditional leadership in land-use planning processes and in modern-democratic governance in South Africa. The focus of the research was to find out if traditional leaders have any roles in land-use planning or municipal governance within the jurisdiction of Nqutu Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. To guide the study and clarify the study topic, collaborative planning theory and critical theory were utilized. Using a qualitative methodology, in the form of face-to-face and telephonic unstructured interviews and participant observations methods, the study results showed that traditional leaders have been side-lined or not active in land use-planning matters before independence. However, after 1994, their authority and knowledge over land administration put them in a unique position to be involved in decision-making processes over land. To answer the questions that directly touch the roles of traditional leaders in land-use planning and municipal governance, a purposive and snowballing sampling methods were utilized. The study results showed that the majority of the land in Nqutu local municipality is traditionally owned and that traditional leaders still play a central role in land administration but a minimal role in land-use planning and municipal affairs. Furthermore, the results proved that traditional leaders faces challenges of illiteracy, lack of skills and knowledge on spatial planning and land-use management and no legally defined roles by the law governing land-use planning and municipalities (despite consultations) is likely to be the cause of them being side-lined from decision-making processes and given responsibilities in land-use planning and municipal governance. The study concluded that traditional leaders’ involvement in land use planning and municipal governance is limited to cases or is minimal leaving the municipality in control.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.