Original Research

The role of traditional leadership in disaster management and disaster risk governance: A case of Ugu District Municipality by-laws

Nonhlanhla A. Zamisa, Sybert Mutereko
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 11, No 1 | a802 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v11i1.802 | © 2019 Nonhlanhla A. Zamisa, Sybert Mutereko | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2018 | Published: 14 October 2019

About the author(s)

Nonhlanhla A. Zamisa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Durban, South Africa
Sybert Mutereko, Discipline of Public Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Section 151(2) of the Constitution empowers municipalities in South Africa to pass disaster management-related by-laws. Such by-laws should be specific on the role of traditional leaders, owing to their authority and proximity to the people coupled with their constitutional mandate to preserve customs and traditions. However, their role is often not maximised because of vague and inadequate policies. There has been little or no scholarly attention to the role of traditional leadership and the policy and legal framework that guide their participation in disaster risk management. Employing a comprehensive content analysis of Ugu District Municipality Disaster Management By-law, this article assesses the adequacy of these by-laws on disaster risk governance in the context of collaboration disaster risk reduction. While the Ugu District Municipality Disaster Management By-law provides for the participation of traditional leadership, this study reveals that it is fraught with ambiguities and seemingly vague clauses. For instance, although in Article 5.1.1 the word ‘authorities’ is used, it is not clear whether this refers to traditional leadership or other entities at the local level. In addition, the composition of the Disaster Management Advisory Forum in Ugu does not explicitly include AmaKhosi. While these results add to the rapidly expanding field of disaster risk management, they also suggest several courses of action for policymakers at local government. Such actions might include, but not limited to, a review of the by-laws to address the lack of collaborative essence relative to traditional leaders for optimal disaster risk reduction initiatives targeting traditional communities.


disaster management; traditional leadership; by-laws


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