The role of traditional leadership in promoting governance and development in rural south africa: a case study of the Mgwalana traditional authority

17 Aug 2016

This article examines how well the Mgwalana Traditional Authority (MTA) is performing its role of governing and developing its area and the municipal area of Nkonkobe in the Province of the Eastern Cape. The Chief of the MTA is one of the 2 400 traditional leaders in South Africa who are responsible for giving leadership and development services to approximately 16 million people living in the rural areas. This article tries to find answers to two research questions: 1) What part does the Mgwalana traditional council play in governance and development? 2) Has the South African government managed to add traditional leadership to the local government structures? The article will show that the MTA is finding it difficult to do much socio-economic development because the Nkonkobe local municipality considers governance and development to be its own role, and the traditional leadership is supposed to join only in customary and cultural activities. The research concludes that these two bodies could break this impasse if they follow the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 41 of 2003, and if the municipality works with local stakeholders, including the MTA, to achieve the goals for local government laid down in section 152 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.