Federalism with South African Characteristics? Traditional Authorities and Customary Law in a Democratic, Constitutional State

The Thinker 76:26-33 (2018)
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Abstract
The paper presents a novel take on the character of South Africa’s governance structure. It argues that, insofar as it constitutionally recognises traditional authorities, figures who rule in accordance with idiosyncratic and localised customary laws, as well as instigate a cheek-by-jowl existence of an asymmetrical property law (where in the urban setting land is nominally bought or transferred for sale, but in traditional rural areas granted by the chief), manifest in the differentiated land laws brought about by the Communal Land Rights Act of 2003, is more akin to, and necessitates a definitional alignment with, the federal system of government than a unitary one – or at least a weak “federalism with South African characteristics.”
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