The unexpected resilience of South Africa’s traditional leaders
Many observers and leading politicians thought that the role of South Africa’s “traditional leaders” or chiefs would decline as a consequence of democratization and economic modernization. But this underestimates the “shape shifting quality” of traditional leadership, write Thomas Koelble and Edward LiPuma in the current issue of Governance (24.1, January 2011). In Traditional leaders and the culture of governance in South Africa, Koelble and LiPuma argue that chiefs have have seized on opportunities presented by South Africa’s integration into the global neoliberal order, which has constrained the activism of the state itself, and encouraged decentralization of power. Chiefs “have carved out an important niche as intermediaries between the state and their subjects,” the authors say, adopting a role that sometimes complements and sometimes challenges democratic rule. Open access to the article for the month of January.