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What are the impacts of ethnically based, traditional political institutions on democratic state and nation building in Southern Africa and how do heterogeneous sources of legitimacy affect the prospects of long-term democratic regime consolidation? What are the impacts of "traditionalism" employed for purposes of party-political mobilization? An indicator for the political influence of traditional leadership in Southern Africa is the fact that a considerable number of democratically elected politicians in high office originate from aristocratic families, representing hereditary traditional leadership structures for centuries. This is evident for the charismatic founding president of the new South Africa; Nelson Mandela, as well as for his adversary, the prime minister-in-office, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The careful reconsideration of this "state behind the state" has been identified as crucial, in this study, to make any realistic assessments of the prospects for sustainable democratization in Southern African countries in the near future.