The ANC And Traditional Authorities In Historical Perspective

  • M Koenane
Keywords: Traditional leadership, political ideology, indigenous traditional


The topic of traditional leaders and their role has always been of great interest not only to anthropologists but also to politicians, the youth, missionaries, business entrepreneurs and government bureaucrats. Policy development that forms part of the government' outputs are influenced by many factors which includes historical facts, political ideologies, cultural differences and sometimes leadership. This article deals with some of these determinants. These give us a better picture as we attempt to outline the existing conflict between the African National Congress (herein referred to as ANC) and the ongoing political battle with the indigenous traditional system of governance in the form of traditional leadership. As a point of departure the author briefly outlines the position of the Constitution regarding traditional leaders in the democratic dispensation of South Africa. I conclude that the ANC's position is ambivalent. It is this ambiguity that contributes to an unclear policy formulation when it comes to defining the role and status of traditional leaders within the local government structures. The article also discusses what the ANC regards as the weaknesses of the traditional leadership and thus arrives at the conclusion that the institution of traditional leadership is by nature an undemocratic entity that must be abolished. The alleged undemocratic practices also include the exclusion of women as traditional leaders. The author argues that the institution of traditional leadership can and must be democratised and therefore be sustained for the benefit of development in rural areas.

Keywords: Traditional leadership, political ideology, indigenous traditional system of governance, historical perspective.

Indilinga Vol. 7 (1) 2008: pp. 87-102

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eISSN: 1683-0296