Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: resources, respect and resistance
Post-1994, South Africa's traditional leaders have fought for recognition, and positioned themselves as major players in the South African political landscape. Yet their role in a democracy is contested, with leaders often accused of abusing power, disregarding human rights, expropriating resources and promoting tribalism. Some argue that democracy and traditional leadership are irredeemably opposed and cannot co-exist. Meanwhile, shifts in the political economy of the former bantustans − the introduction of platinum mining in particular − have attracted new interests and conflicts to these areas, with chiefs often designated as custodians of community interests.
This edited volume explores how chieftancy is practised, experienced and contested in contemporary South Africa. It includes case studies of how those living under the authority of chiefs, in a modern democracy, negotiate or resist this authority in their respective areas. Chapters in this book are organised around three major sites of contest: leadership, land and law.
The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) was founded by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance who saw the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing South Africa. It is an Institute that combines research and academic development, strategic reflection and intellectual discourse. It applies itself to issues such as economics, sociology, history, arts and culture and the logics of natural sciences.
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