The transformation of traditional leadership : a case study of the Simdlangentsha Traditional Council and its relationship with local government
Maseko, Mafika Jacob
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The Simdlangentsha Traditional Council is one of the traditional communities that did not enjoy the publicity afforded other communities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, despite the Simdlangentsha community’s interesting Zulu history and the socio-cultural changes that took place within this community since the democratic elections of 1994.The present study focuses on the specific traditional council and the changes that occurred in it since 1994. Due to the council’s relationship with local government the mentioned changes relate to political, economic and social contexts. This study, therefore, proposes reasons for these ongoing changes in Simdlangentsha traditional community. The aim is to understand the impact the new dispensation had on the role and functioning of traditional leaders in relation to the elected municipal officials with the aim of providing services to the community. The aim of this study is to highlight the socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-economic changes in the role of Simdlangentsha Tribal Authority since the general elections of 1994. This study investigates the role of traditional leaders in this traditional community. This role pertains to traditions, customs, dispute resolutions, safety and security in the community, development of communities, reporting of endemic diseases in community areas as well as other community-based activities and other community programmes. It further explores the relationship between traditional leaders and the elected municipal structures within traditional communities. The impact of the interaction of the two institutions on service delivery is also analysed. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect information from the community. Interview schedule and focus groups played an important part in providing information about the changes community members are experiencing currently. These changes concern service delivery, the role of traditional leaders and of municipalities, the relationship between traditional leaders and the municipalities and the impact it has on the daily life of community members of Simdlangentsha traditional community in general. This study revealed the following about the Simdlangentsha Traditional Council since the 1994 democratic elections: a. The study discovered a paradigm shift regarding the type of leadership in this traditional community, for example succession of traditional leaders no longer occurs on the basis of heredity. b. During the study the researcher found that the introduction of both South African Constitutions (interim and final) and other items of legislation regulating traditional institutions in South Africa have influenced the functions and general operations of traditional leaders of the Simdlangentsha Traditional Council considerably. Special mention should be made of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act 41 of 2003 that has reformed and transformed the traditional leadership institution in the Republic of South Africa comprehensively. c. The study found that, although the Amakhosi of Simdlangentsha are all located and found in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, they are not all Zulus by birth. The study revealed that the Dlamini and Mavuso traditional leaders originated from Swaziland. These two clans have never been seen as clans that had their origins in the Louwsburg (eNgoje) area. d. One of the findings in this study is that the Simdlangentsha Traditional Council experiences problematic relationships with the municipalities. This is because the functioning of municipal officials is based on the new legislation that has been introduced since 1994. It became clear during the study that the relationship between the municipal officials and the traditional leaders was not without its difficulties.