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Publication Details

Reference
Koelble, Thomas & LiPuma, Edward & Matheza, Thobani  (2003) Chiefs and Democrats:On the Compatibility of Traditional Authorities and Political Democracy in South Africa. CCS Grant Report : 1-50.

Summary
Chiefs, the icon of tradition, custom and backwardness of pre-modern societies, have often been assigned a similar role to that of the European aristocracy modernity, in the form of the nation-state and democratic political procedures that enshrine equality across the citizenry, would replace the institution as well as the persons occupying the role. While European aristocrats may still exist, they do not occupy a central role in the political, social or economic life of modern Europe. And, yet, as the African National Congress (ANC) widens its grip on political power in South Africa, its reluctance to oppose, indeed its support of the institution of traditional leadership is remarkable for a political party otherwise (and seemingly) imbued with all of the trappings of a modernist movement for liberation and emancipation. In South Africa, as indeed in many other post-colonial places, the chief is making a comeback being granted representation in elected houses of representation and provided with local decision-making power of some importance.

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