Decentralization in Africa and the resilience of traditional authorities: Evaluating Zimbabwe’s track record
Chigwata, Tinashe Calton
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This paper looks at one of the most important endogenous factors inﬂuencing the workings of decentralization in Zimbabwe. Successive waves of formal institutional change that took place during Zimbabwe’s colonial and post-colonial history have been unable able to uproot the inﬂuence of traditional leaders. Due to their home-grown legitimacy, various traditional authorities continue to play an ever-present role in the lives of people in rural areas. But, as it is the case throughout most of Africa, the powers of traditional leaders have mostly been uncodiﬁed under modern law and these power relations tend to be rather informal and culturally inaccessible to most outsiders. Consequently, the scholarly literature has not been able to systematically acknowledge their pervasive inﬂuence. The article concludes with a reﬂection on how the inﬂuence of traditional authorities can be translated into the democratic and progressive empowerment of rural populations in the developing world.