Finding the Chief: Political Decentralization and Traditional Authority in Mocumbi, Souther Mozambique

  • Goncalves E
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This paper uses the colonial-era phrase, 'finding the chief', to launch an investigation into the position of traditional authorities in Mozambique. In 1978, three years after independence, Mozambique abolished traditional authority via a law designed to reform the colonial administrative system. Almost thirty years later, after a prolonged civil war, the government is repeating the colonial formula of 'finding chiefs' but this time in the name of democracy and decentralisation. This paper discusses local power dynamics in the context of the recognition of traditional authorities and investigates the extent to which the recognition of traditional authority has transformed local government and promoted democracy and development in rural Mozambique. The paper draws on fieldwork conducted in the administrative post of Mocumbi, Southern Mozambique. The main contention of this article is that the relevance of the institution for local government has been exaggerated. Reprinted by permission of Africa Institute of South Africa

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  • Euclides Goncalves

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