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Part IV Traditional Institutions and Decentralisation, 20 The Tinkhundla Decentralisation System: Is this a Blend of Traditional and Modern State Governance that Works?

Musa Njabulo Shongwe

From: Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa

Edited By: Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 27 October 2020

This chapter studies how the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) eschewed ‘Western’ forms of democracy and, through its tinkhundla system, embraced traditional governance. The tinkhundla—a constituency-based electoral and state-governance system—is a unique non-partisan political system where executive authority is vested in the king. Established as an alternative to the post-independence multiparty system, the tinkhundla system has created a home-grown legal and political order in which traditional authorities and institutions have a significant role to play in local governance. This system seeks to blend traditional law with constitutional and modern principles of decentralised governance, and, as such, coexists alongside an urban local government system. Ultimately, however, the tinkhundla system decentralises administrative and political functions to the people, but not real political power.

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