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Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi

Executive Director

Mbongiseni Buthelezi

Mbongiseni holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, New York, where he also obtained a Master of Philosophy in English and Comparative Literature. A dedicated scholar, he graduated cum laude from both the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Natal, earning a Master of Arts in English Studies and Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in English and Drama, respectively. Working in various academic and activist capacities, Mbongiseni has been interested in how the state interfaces with citizens in areas that include land restitution, the role of traditional leaders in governance, heritage and public archives.

With various collaborators he has researched and written on the state’s constructions of the identities of citizens in KwaZulu-Natal through heritage discourse and commemorative events. He has also written on land and citizenship rights in rural areas and the role of traditional leaders in the realisation of these rights, as well as the dire state of public archives and its implications for accountable government.


News24 (17 February 2020) ‘Ramaphosa Must Rebuild Trust In The Public Service‘, Mbongiseni Buthelezi.

Maverick Citizen (17 February 2020) ‘Sona Response: Ramaphosa Must Rebuild Trust In The Public Service’, Mbongiseni Buthelezi.

Mail & Guardian (16 October 2019) ‘People Must Participate In Governance’, Mbongiseni Buthelezi and Tracy Ledger.

Buthelezi, M., D. Skosana and B. Vale (eds) (2019) Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Respect and Resistance. Johannesburg: Jacana Media.

Buthelezi, M. and D. Skosana (2018) ‘The Salience of Chiefs In Post-Apartheid South Africa: Reflections on the Nhlapo Commission’, in J. Comaroff and J. Comaroff (eds) The Politics of Custom in Africa, pp. 100–35. Chicago, IL; London: University of Chicago Press.

Olver, C., R. Brunette and M. Buthelezi  (2017) ‘Party Political Funding and the South African State’. Submission to the Parliamentary Ad-hoc Committee on the Funding of Political Parties. Working Paper. Johannesburg: Public Affairs Research Institute.

Chipkin, Swilling and Buthelezi et al. (2017) ‘Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen’. An SCRP report. Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg: State Capacity Research Project.

Buthelezi, M. (2016) ‘We need new names too’, in C. Hamilton and N. Leibhammer (eds) Tribing and untribing the archive: identity and the material record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the late independent and colonial periods, pp. 587–99. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Buthelezi, M. (2016) ‘Why are you learning Zulu again?’ Roundtable on Mark Sanders’ Learning Zulu, Safundi. Journal of South African and American Studies, 18(1), pp. 16-19.

Buthelezi, M. (2016) ‘Black Sash: Organisational Evaluation’. A PARI report. Johannesburg: Public Affairs Research Institute.