n South African Journal on Human Rights - The resurgence of tribal taxes in the context of recent traditional leadership laws in South Africa

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



The imposition of 'tribal levies' was a flashpoint for the anti-Bantustan rebellions of the 1980s. Rural people objected to traditional leaders demanding excessive levies that were not adequately accounted for. The Constitution authorises only the three levels of government to tax, and circumscribes taxation power in various ways. Yet rural people report a resurgence of demands for tribal levies in all the former homelands, and in 2005, the Limpopo Traditional Leadership and Institutions Act provided for the imposition of 'traditional council rates'. This article describes the upsurge of tribal levies in the context of the ambiguity of recent laws and policy in respect of traditional leadership and tribal taxation. It argues that tribal levies are inconsistent with the Constitution and that they derive from colonial and apartheid laws and distortions, rather than from customary law per se. It focuses on Limpopo Province.

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