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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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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thurlow, James, 2006. "Has trade liberalization in South Africa affected men and women differently?:," DSGD discussion papers 36, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Murray Leibbrandt & Laura Poswell & Pranushka & Matthew Welch & Ingrid Woolard, 2004. "Measuring recent changes in South African inequality and poverty using 1996 and 2001 census data," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 084, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    3. Ardington, Cally & Lam, David & Leibbrandt, Murray & Welch, Matthew, 2006. "The sensitivity to key data imputations of recent estimates of income poverty and inequality in South Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 822-835, September.
    4. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa Since the Fall of Apartheid," NBER Working Papers 11384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Servaas Van der berg & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2008. "Post-Transition Poverty Trends Based On An Alternative Data Source," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 58-76, March.
    6. Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Poverty and expenditure pattern of households in Pakistan and South Africa: a comparative study," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 241-256.
    7. Paula Armstrong & Bongisa Lekezwa & Krige Siebrits, 2008. "Poverty in South Africa: A profile based on recent household surveys," Working Papers 04/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Haroon Bhorat & Carlene van der Westhuizen & Pranushka Naidoo, 2006. "Shifts in Non-Income Welfare in South Africa: 1993-2004," Working Papers 06108, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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