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Prof. Mbongiseni Buthelezi

Executive Director

Mbongiseni Buthelezi

Mbongiseni Buthelezi is the Executive Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute and an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg. His research focuses on studying land, governance and the state in South Africa. He is interested in trajectories of land reform, the role of traditional authorities in land governance, the study of institutions of the state as well as on corruption and state capture. He explores how we can think with pre-colonial pasts to forge decolonial futures in areas ranging from identity and archives to governance and state building. Mbongiseni holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York. His most recent co-edited publication with Peter Vale is State Capture in South Africa: How and Why it Happened (2023, Wits University Press).


Buthelezi, M. and P. Vale (eds) (2023) State Capture in South Africa: How and Why It Happened. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

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.