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Chieftaincy and democratic local governance in rural South Africa: Natural resources management in QwaQwa


  • Herbert Mwalukomo
  • Zarina Patel


This paper examines the changing role of chieftaincy in relation to democratic institutions of local governance in QwaQwa in the Eastern Free State and in particular the implications for the management of natural resources. Referring to a case study of grass usage, the paper identifies the shift from chieftaincy to democratic local governance as one of the factors that have undermined the chiefs' control over the use of natural resources, as infrastructural development takes precedence over management of natural resources in municipal planning and service delivery. The ensuing absence of control over the use of grass broadly reflects the unclear institutional framework for natural resources management on communal land in rural South Africa. However, despite the power struggle that generally goes on between chiefs and elected councillors of QwaQwa, there is potential for building on areas of common interest to improve natural resources management in the area.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbert Mwalukomo & Zarina Patel, 2012. "Chieftaincy and democratic local governance in rural South Africa: Natural resources management in QwaQwa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 259-272, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:259-272
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2012.675696

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