Original Research

Are we tribalistic? Demarcation disputes in Vuwani Vhembe District

Thandeka Khowa
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 10, No 1 | a534 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v10i1.534 | © 2022 Thandeka Khowa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 February 2021 | Published: 28 January 2022

About the author(s)

Thandeka Khowa, Department of Human Settlements, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa


Background: Vuwani community expressed their rejection of the municipal boundary demarcations which resulted in the formation of the Collins Chabane Municipality made-up of parts of Vuwani community and Malamulele community. A number of media reports had alluded that much of what is presented as demarcation disputes is largely fueled by tribalism (Baloyi 2018).

Aim: Using relevant literature, this study aimed at examining claims of tribalism in Vuwani demarcation disputes. In so doing the study examines the claims of tribalism as a catalyst in the demarcation disputes in Vuwani.

Setting: The area of study is Vuwani Vhembe District in South Africa. However lessons learnt are not limited to South Africa but contributes to the body of knowledge on demarcations in Africa and worldwide.

Methods: A qualitative approach was adopted using in-depth and focus group discussion analysed through Territorial and Inclusion theories.

Results: The findings revealed that clustering Vuwani demarcation disputes as being merely tribalistic is a narrow and dismissive approach to the amalgamation disputes in Vuwani. The findings further revealed the contributing factors to the demarcation disputes in Vuwani such as lack of adherence to good governance principle, lack of transparency etc. have led to many misconceptions which fueled the ongoing demarcation disputes.

Conclusion: Adherence to good governance principles and policies is essential in redrawing of the spatial boundaries. Land, especially rural land is a sensitive commodity in Africa because of the effects of colonialism and apartheid. Thus, redrawing of spatial boundaries need to be carried out with extreme caution.


municipal demarcation; Vuwani Vhembe District; tribalism; good governance; rural land


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