The South African post-apartheid government attempted to integrate traditional
authorities and local government. The concept is to promote co-operative
and inclusive government among rural communities and contemporary local
government systems. Government believes traditional authorities have a role to
play in democracy, particularly with regard to community service delivery in these
societies and democracy particularly with regard to community service delivery.
However, this attempt has encountered several constraints. This article identifies
those factors that are constraining this attempt. Fifteen traditional leaders who
represent rural communities in municipalities in the Vhembe District Municipality
were interviewed through a semi-structured questionnaire to measure their
perception with regard to their role in local government. In addition, representatives
of traditional leaders’ structures, municipal managers, municipal IDP managers,
municipal mayors and the Vhembe District Municipal Mayor were also interviewed.
The results of this study reveal that perceptions on the role played by traditional
leaders in the local government IDP processes vary considerably. The results
revealed that perceptions on their participation (45,5%), involvement (45,25%),
submission of views (41,2%), and participation in ward committees (4,8%), council
attendance (90,0%), playing a role in the proceedings (50,0%), submission of IDP proposals (38,7%) and consultation by local government offi cials (93,2%) were
indeed very diverse. The overall finding is that the real participation by traditional
leaders in the IDP process is still relatively limited.