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Democratisation, Traditional Leadership and Reform Politics in South Africa
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study of democratisation and traditional leadership in South Africa is to understand why government efforts to democratise areas under traditional leadership surprisingly resulted in the maintenance of certain aspects of hereditary rule in official governance. Theory suggests that the answer is found in a dilemma faced by politicians, as they have to undertake reform with a view to advance four potentially contradictory political goals: democracy, state efficiency, state unity and, finally, re-election.

To investigate how politicians juggle such goals, the author uses interviews, archive and press material, and participatory observation, to recount the processes by which two crucial laws connected to South African policy on traditional leadership in local governance were developed: the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (2003) and the Communal Land Rights Act (2004).

The account of these processes supports theories about the contradictory nature of the goals involved. Politicians were found to weigh a strong ambition to democratise against ambitions to avoid ethnic mobilisation, to strengthen the presence of the state and local government in areas far from the urban centres, and to choose the reform strategies that were most likely to benefit the ruling party in the next election. While the democratising ambition translated into support for democratic local government structures over and above traditional institutions of local governance, the study finds that politicians in the end prioritised state efficiency, stability and the advancement of re-election chances, before democratisation of land administration. The end result of the processes was thus a set of institutions that fell short of complete democratisation.

Hence, the study makes a detailed account of how political goals are translated into political realities, and of the problems involved in translating democratic ideals into viable institutional solutions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Statsvetenskapliga institutionen , 2006. , 332 p.
Keyword [en]
Political science, Democratisation, traditional leadership, local government reform, South Africa, state efficiency, nation-building, Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (2003), Communal Land Rights Act (2004)
Keyword [sv]
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-6902OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-6902DiVA: diva2:168439
Public defence
2006-05-23, Brusewitz-salen, Gamla Badhuset, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Gamla Torget 6, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 2006-05-02 Created: 2006-05-02Bibliographically approved

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