The objective of the study was to compare the functions and management systems of goats in Chirumanzu district in Zimbabwe and, Alfred Nzo and Amatole districts in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Data were collected using participatory rural appraisal techniques and direct observations. In addition, structured questionnaires from 344 households as follows; 69 from Alfred Nzo district, 144 from Amatole district and 132 from Chirumanzu district were also used to retrieve information from farmers. There were more female goat owners in male-headed households in Chirumanzu (75%) than in Amatole (27%) and Alfred Nzo (30%). Mean goat flock sizes per household were markedly high in Amatole (14.0?±?0.31) and Alfred Nzo (14.1?±?1.42) as compared to Chirumanzu (4.7?±?0.30). There were positive correlations (r?=?0.30 for Amatole, r?=?0.34 for Alfred Nzo and r?=?0.25 for Chirumanzu; P?0.05) between goat flock sizes and cattle herd sizes kept per household. Seventy-nine and 78% of households in Amatole and Alfred Nzo kept goats mainly for initiation ceremonies, respectively. Nearly all (95%) of the households in Chirumanzu reared goats for household consumption. Goat houses in all the districts were poorly constructed. Farmers’ perceptions showed that most goat mortalities were mainly caused by gastrointestinal parasites and tick-borne diseases, especially heartwater. About 29, 15 and 27% of households in Alfred Nzo, Amatole and Chirumanzu, respectively, owned bucks. There were no formal markets for goats in the three districts. Chirumanzu had more females owning goats than the other two districts. No adolescents owned goats in all the three districts. Adolescent boys participated in the management of goats more than adolescent girls across the three districts. Differences in the importance of goats among countries and regions should be borne in mind when designing goat improvement and rural development programmes.