The traditional leadership institution is hierarchal in nature with the Isilo at the top layer and Amakhosi and the Traditional Council taking second and third layers respectively. Izinduna, izibonda and amaphoyisa enkosi occupy the bottom two layers. Isilo is the monarch, amakhosi are senior traditional leaders, both of whom get to these positions through inheritance. However, during colonial times in South Africa some senior traditional leaders were imposed by colonial masters (Mashele, 2003; Minnaar, 1991). The Traditional Council is the only component within the traditional leadership institution that cuts accross all layers and is democratically elected, and it must include women (KZNLGTA, 2005; RSA, 2003). The last two layers of the institution –izinduna, izibonda and amaphoyisa enkosi –are often appointed by the senior traditional leaders (Mbokazi &Bhengu, 2008).
The Legislation recognises the first four layers. The fifth layer of izibonda and amaphoyisa enkosi takes different shapes in different communities within the province (Mbokazi &Bhengu, 2008). Izibonda are elderly members of the community who have profound knowledge of community history. Amaphoyisa enkosi keep the peace in community gatherings (Mbokazi & Bhengu, 2008).
Ingonyama Trust manages approximately 2, 7 million hectares of land on behalf of the traditional leadership with their written consent, and cannot dictate how the land is used (KZNPDC, 2007). In 2007 the Trust raised income of about 25 million Rands and geve it to traditional communities (KZNPDC, 2007). The process of accessing these funds follows a strict procedure where the onus is put on the traditional authorities to develop business plans in order to access the money from the Trust fund (KZNPDC, 2007). However, most traditional leaders were not aware of how to access money from the Trust (KZNPDC, 2007).
Engaging with Traditional Councils and Ingonyama Trust in terms of planning processes opens a platform to explore a particular form of democracy that is characterised by a sharp tension between Western forms and indigenous practices. Central to this debate is the notion of spatial planning, which refers to the way in which different activities, land uses and buildings are located in proximity to each other, whereby their considerations influence –and are influenced by –economic, social, political, infrastructural and environmental factors (White Paper on Land Use Management, 2001). This includes the geographical distribution of people and economic activities, i.e. orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities (White Paper on Land Use Management, 2001). In essence, spatial planning seeks to improve the optimal use of land, by discouraging the location of land uses that are incompatible next to each other, but rather to locate land uses that would reinforce one other (KwaZulu-Natal Land Use Management System Guidelines Manual, 2001). To achieve this, zoning method –a system of land-use regulation –is often used (KwaZulu-Natal Land Use Management System Guidelines Manual, 2001). Land use management systems (LUMS) helps in achieving compatible land use objective to promote sustainable development and quality of life. However, planning and development occur within the context of South Africa facing a various challenges such as health, education, poverty and other social ills that are more prevalent in rural communities (Themane, Monyeki, Nthangeni, Kemper and Twisk, 2003; Hulme and Turner, 1990).