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Role of traditional leadership in service delivery : a case study of eThekwini Municipality.

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The study analysed the role of Traditional leaders in service delivery within eThekwini Municipality. The study makes an in-depth analysis of both the pre- democratic and post democratic local government dispensation and the role of the Traditional Leadership in the process. The study also covered the historic role of Traditional Leaders dating back from the pre colonial, colonial and apartheid era. The researcher also reviewed the international experience on the role of traditional leaders in service delivery focusing on African countries. The study also covered the role of traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal under apartheid and the post democratic era. The researcher chose three wards which are almost ninety percent rural which is Ward 01,02 and 03.The researcher focused on the municipal budgets for three years which is 2006/2007 , 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 financial years. The researcher analysed budgets allocated to the three wards during the above three years, the Integrated Development Plans and Annual reviews for the above three years. This study makes in-depth analyses of the projects budgeted for and implemented in the three financial years and the role of traditional leaders in the adoption of those budgets and their implementation. The study was conducted through both qualitative and quantitative research methodology. As mentioned above budgets, IDPs’ and Annual Reports of the municipality were analysed. Interviews were conducted with ward councillors, traditional leaders, senior municipality staff and senior officials from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance. Community members from the three wards were also interviewed through a separate questionnaire. Each and every question given by each respondent was analysed either through qualitative or quantitative analysis. The findings of the research revealed that eThekwini Municipality inherited rural areas which were highly under-developed. There were no basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity. The municipality has invested large amount of resources in provision of such basic services.The fact, however, is that the rural areas are still lagging behind in service delivery when compared to urban parts of the municipality. Basic service delivery in urban areas is about ninety five percent whereas in rural areas, it is about seventy five percent. The most important findings of the study is the fact that Traditional Leaders are not playing any significant role in service delivery within the municipality. They do not sit on the highest decision making body of the municipality, the Municipal Council despite the Act (Local Government Municipal Structures Act No.117 of 1998) stating that they should be represented. The Traditional Leaders do not contribute on the IDP, Budget formulation and projects planning. The traditional Leaders are only consulted when the project is to be implemented in their areas. The Traditional Leader’s role is purely ceremonial and restricted to sod turning and public mobilization. The researcher hopes that the result of the study will contribute to the municipality rethinking the role of Traditional Leadership and implementing the Local Government Municipal Structures Act, No. 117of 1998 The following are the Recommendations: The implementation of the Local Government Municipal Structures act 177 of 1998 which calls for the representation of the Traditional Leadership in municipalities. Also the Amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, related Municipal and Traditional Leadership legislation in order to provide clarity on the roles of traditional leaders within the municipality is recommended. The researcher further recommends greater involvement of Traditional Leadership in Integrated Development Planning, Budgetary processes, projects planning, projects implementation and annual review processes. Office of Amakhosi to report directly to the Deputy City Manager Governance for speedy implementation of decisions taken by the office. Regular capacity building workshops and study bursaries for both councillors and the Traditional Leadership.


MPA University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2014.


Municipal services--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Local government--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Civic leaders., Theses--Public administration.