Groundnut is an economically important N 2-fixing legume that can contribute about 100–190 kg N ha −1 to cropping systems. In this study, groundnut-nodulating native rhizobia in South African soils were isolated from root nodules. Genetic analysis of isolates was done using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)-PCR of the intergenic spacer (IGS) region of 16S-23S rDNA. A total of 26 IGS types were detected with band sizes ranging from 471 to 1415 bp. The rhizobial isolates were grouped into five main clusters with Jaccard's similarity coefficient of 0.00–1.00, and 35 restriction types in a UPGMA dendrogram. Partial sequence analysis of the 16S rDNA, IGS of 16S rDNA-23S rDNA, atpD, gyrB, gltA, glnII and symbiotic nifH and nodC genes obtained for representative isolates of each RFLP-cluster showed that these native groundnut-nodulating rhizobia were phylogenetically diverse, thus confirming the extent of promiscuity of this legume. Concatenated gene sequence analysis showed that most isolates did not align with known type strains, and may represent new species from South Africa. This underscored the high genetic variability associated with groundnut Rhizobium and Bradyrhizobium in South African soils, and the possible presence of a reservoir of novel groundnut-nodulating Bradyrhizobium and Rhizobium in the country.