The role of traditional leadership in democratic governance
Ncube, Bhekithemba Derrick
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One of the challenges of the post-apartheid South African democracy is the incorporation of an old age institution of traditional leadership into democracy that seems to be in contrast to its principles. From the dawn of democracy, South Africa has been carrying this unresolved burden of ensuring that the institution of traditional leadership being part of new political dispensation. However, those against traditional leadership having a role to play in democracy have cited several concerns which are valid to an extent. These include the institution being aristocratic and chauvinistic in its treatment of women. In addition, they highlights that unlike in democracy, the ascendancy into its leadership is being flawed with discrepancies. Yet, the institution is in the heart of many who value culture and tradition. in ·the process, it carries an appetizing constituency for the political parties who intend to win its favour towards votes. The post-apartheid era, therefore, has been attempting to incorporate such an institution. One of the justifications has been, democracy has to find a way of making a compromise not to undermine nor alienate an institution that has a pre-colonial history, survived the onslaught of colonialism and apartheid, which people still embrace it. In the process, legislations have been passed including adopting a legal pluralist constitution. Yet, despite all the implemented legislations, traditional leadership has remained an impasse mainly because none clearly define an active and tangible role that traditional leadership has on democracy. This has brought confusion and doubt as to whether traditional leadership indeed can participate in democracy. In the light of such quandary, studies have been made in an attempt to resolve the ~ole of traditional leadership in democracy. Despite numerous recommendations towards incorporating traditional leadership in democracy, the government has been cautiously and at times reluctantly taking such suggestions. The main reason being that South African Constitution has heaped praises as being the most progressive. Any amendments, therefore, are frowned at as posing a threat to the image created. Even then, there is no denying of the power that traditional leaders have to a formidable part of South African society. Therefore, it is important to find a way of ensuring that democracy does not exclude these communities. Moreover, in the light of service delivery, development and good governance, traditional leadership has to be equipped to ensure that it doesn't contravene nor hinder the benefits of democratic dispensation. Therefore, the study intends to address the crucial concerns while forging a direction of truly identifying the role of traditional leadership in democracy. The reservations of the pure democracy advocates are objectively assessed and addressed. On the other side, traditional leadership is being analyzed to identify if there is a breakthrough towards having a clear role in democracy.