The Impact of Perceptions of Tribalism and Ethnicity on Public Administration in South Africa: A Case Study of the Vuwani in the Vhembe District
Keywords:Municipal Demarcation Board, Tribalism, Nation-building, Vuwani, New Municipality
This study investigated the impact of perceptions of ethnicity and tribalism on public administration in South Africa with reference to the protests of Vuwani communities in 2016 against their area being re-demarcated to fall under the LIM 345 municipality (later named the Collins Chabane Local Municipality) dominated by Xitsonga speakers. The study adopted qualitative and exploration designs and used a literature review and key informant interviews in order to obtain secondary and primary data respectively. This study revealed that Vuwani communities feared domination by the Xitsonga-speaking majority in the proposed new municipality. The council of the proposed new municipality consisted of 72 councillors, 74 per cent of which were Xitsonga-speaking councillors and a mere 26 per cent were Tshivenda-speaking councillors. It also found that perceptions of ethnicity and tribalism in Vuwani had rendered public administration ineffective, thus bringing service delivery to a halt for several months. The study recommended that policy-makers should abolish majority representation based solely on regionalism and should seek to forge national unity. It concluded that the establishment of public institutions based on ethnic homogeneity had the potential of bringing about peace and stability in areas characterised by ethnic disparities.
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