n AFFRIKA Journal of Politics, Economics and Society - Why did the African National Congress embrace the institution of traditional leadership in the 1990s?

Volume 5, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 1998-4936
  • E-ISSN: 2075-6534


As the dawn of democracy became imminent in South Africa after a long and protracted struggle for political liberation by the oppressed masses, debates ensued regarding the fate of a number of institutions that had operated under apartheid. The bone of contention was whether these institutions would be retained or discarded under the new political order. One such institution was the institution of traditional leadership. As some deemed it obsolete and outmoded on the grounds that it served the colonial and apartheid regimes, others disagreed. They saw a place for it under the new political dispensation on the basis that traditional leaders had resisted colonialism and apartheid and also had vast experience on local governance. Eventually, the institution was retained. But what were the bases for this decision? Drawing from history - both distant and modern - this article provides the context within which the ANC's decision to retain traditional leaders should be understood. The article provides five reasons on which this decision was predicated and avers that it was inevitable that the ANC had to retain the institution when South Africa obtained democracy. The article concludes that given their long history, traditional leaders cannot easily be uprooted, more especially in Africa.

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