The post-apartheid local governance legislative frameworks such as the White Paper on Local Government 1998, the Local Government Municipal Demarcation Act 1998, and the Local Government Municipal Systems Act 2000 seek to create a new relational order between traditional and municipal authorities of local government. However, traditional authorities are presented as a lesser partner of local governance. This challenge emanates from the South African Constitution of 1996 which is less explicit about the role of traditional leaders in local governance, thus creating contradictions and dilemmas resulting from overlapping functions and competing interests. Owing to the increasing pressure on municipalities to work with traditional leaders in facilitating service delivery, this relationship has become a pressing point. This paper investigates the dilemmas and contradictions ensuing from their divergent views on political authority, land allocation, implementation of municipal standards, and formulation of integrated development plans. The paper uses the case study of Umjindini Traditional Authority (Barberton) in Mpumalanga Province, to reflect on the strategies that traditional authorities adopt to shore up their authority, and the manner in which municipalities mitigate their position. It is argued that government’s integration of the traditional institution has not translated into constructive practice, and that there is a need for alternative ways of re-negotiating the relationship in order to develop sustainable integrated governance.


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pp. 59-82
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