n Journal of Public Administration - The role of traditional leaders in the improvement of the lives of communities in South Africa

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The advent of democracy and the first democratic non-racial local government elections in 1994 and 1995 respectively, brought about a new era of leadership at the local sphere of government. According to the Constitution of 1996 municipalities must be established throughout the country including the rural areas. This resulted in the election of councillors in the area of jurisdiction of traditional leaders.

The inclusion of municipalities in rural areas brought about two kinds of leadership in rural communities, i.e. traditional leaders and municipal councillors. The Constitution does not define the role of traditional leaders in their communities although section 156 defines the powers and functions of elected councillors, which largely overlaps with those exercised by traditional leaders. In essence, what is legislated in the Constitution is the role of councillors in service delivery. Section 152(b) and 153(a) of the Constitution stipulate one of the objects of local government under the leadership of councillors to be to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner and to structure and manage the municipality's administration, budgeting and planning processes to give priority to the basic needs of the community. However, Chapter 12 of the Constitution recognises traditional leaders and makes provision for the advisory role at provincial and national sphere of the government but does not specify what role these leaders should play at local the local sphere of government.
The paper examines the role of traditional leadership in service delivery in the local sphere of government. A comparative analysis of traditional leaders' role and those of municipal councillors are then made. The paper also identifies the deficiencies inherent in the Constitution regarding the role of traditional leaders in local service delivery. It concludes with recommendations on complementary leadership in local service delivery.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error