Rural Governance in South Africa: Is there a Place for Neo-Feudalism in a Democracy?


  • Sibonginkosi Mazibuko


The governance of rural areas rests with traditional leadership in South Africa. This governance is determined by the fact that land is in the custodian of this traditional leadership. Individual persons cannot own the land. This fact makes land a major instrument of control by those that have this power of controlling the land. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, citizens have been turned into subjects of the Zulu monarch (Ingonyama). Accordingly, the rural people of KwaZulu-Natal cannot by law own the land they occupy. All land is placed under the monarch. This article therefore argues that placing the land under Ingonyama is a neo-feudalist practice that constitutionally deprives the rural poor the right to own land and to better their lives. It is further argued here that this law will only affect the African population in that province while all other racial groups are free to own land privately. Based on the analysis of existing literature, this article aims to show that the democratic dispensation of 1994 in South Africa left the rural people out in terms of property relations. The article concludes by saying that the Ingonyama Trust Act is a perpetuation of Bantustan politics as it applies only to land that formerly constituted the Bantustan of KwaZulu. As a result, this law is most likely to perpetuate rural poverty.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n20p2455


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How to Cite

Rural Governance in South Africa: Is there a Place for Neo-Feudalism in a Democracy?. (2014). Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 2455.