Review Article

The dynamics of traditional leaders’ relationship with municipal councillors and service delivery

Kutu S. Ramolobe
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 4 | a95 | DOI: | © 2023 Kutu S. Ramolobe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 July 2022 | Published: 07 February 2023

About the author(s)

Kutu S. Ramolobe, Department of Public Management and Leadership, Faculty of Humanities, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa


Background: The power disparity between traditional leaders and councillors is a source of concern for the local government’s developmental focus, as the municipality and traditional leaders do not always agree, even though the service delivery is sorely needed by the people they serve. Although many scholars have written about the roles of traditional leaders and municipal councillors, the critical question that remains unanswered is how their relationship works in terms of service delivery.

Aim: This article theoretically investigates the relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councillors and its adverse impacts on rural development.

Setting: South African municipalities.

Methods: The methodology for this article is a literature review guided by a hermeneutic framework. This article adopted a hermeneutic framework to integrate the analysis and interpretation of information collected from the literature.

Results: The power dynamic between traditional leaders and elected councillors has surfaced as a source of concern, as it has the potential to delay and block development.

Conclusion: The article concludes that all local government stakeholders must work to strengthen the relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councillors.

Contribution: This article has the potential to add to theory, policy and practice in terms of strategies to address the relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councillors in local government.


Traditional leaders; municipal councillors; hermeneutic framework; rural development; service delivery.


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