Traditional Leadership, Politics, And Governance


Traditional leadership in South Africa is an established leadership institution recognized by the government of South Africa. It is an important pillar of our democracy with representation at various levels of governance, regionally and nationally. Constitutionally, traditional leaders are allowed, just like every citizen, to belong to political parties of their choice. At present, several traditional leaders belong to various political parties and participate in these parties in their personal capacities as traditional leaders. Moreover, they play a significant role in unifying communities in the jurisdictions under their leadership.

However, whilst the Constitution accords every citizen freedom of association, and the right to participate in party politics and vote for the party of their choice, a balance needs to be struck between the rights of traditional leaders to participate in politics and the need for the institution of traditional leaders to continue to play a unifying role amongst communities.

The involvement of traditional leadership in all societal aspects including politics, governance, and social cohesion promotion is critical for strengthening our democracy. Therefore, enhancing traditional leadership capabilities to engage with their constituencies and other strategic stakeholders will strengthen local governance through the promotion of active citizenship and peaceful co-existence of communities.


The objectives of the program are:

  1. To empower traditional leaders and traditional institutions and their constituencies with knowledge about human rights (the Bill of Rights and the Constitution), social cohesion, active citizenship, and local governance.
  2. To create platforms for multi-stakeholder engagement between traditional leaders and their constituencies for engagement on various aspects of public participation, active citizenship, political participation, and governance.
  3. To produce regular research products on traditional leadership, politics, and governance.


The program conducts three activities:

  1. Conduct Capacity building for traditional leaders and a range of stakeholders.
  2. Convene regular multi-stakeholder engagements.
  3. Conduct and produce regular research outputs on traditional leadership, political participation, and governance.

Target Groups

Traditional Leaders (male and female), civil society organizations, municipalities, academia, IEC, and government departments (COGTA).

Contact Person: Sphamandla Brian Mhlongo, DDP Senior Program Officer (

August 31, 2022

Traditional Leadership & Governance – Workshop

The Democracy Development Program, in partnership with the Independent Electoral Commission (uMsunduzi District),  hosted a capacity-building workshop with traditional leaders in the Impendle Local Municipality. This […]