Ziyanda Buthelezi

Media regulatory affairs manager

Ziyanda Buthelezi’s favourite TV programmes when she was growing up were all legal dramas, but as she grew older and more politically and socially aware, she found that the people she admired the most were real lawyers — people such as Nelson Mandela and George Bizos.

“I don’t remember aspiring to be anything else,” she says. “For me, the question was never whether I should study law — the only question was which discipline to pursue. I have not regretted my decision, I am proud of my work and the small way in which I contribute to society in my sphere of influence.” Buthelezi has held the position of regional regulatory counsel for a media house for approximately five years, where she is tasked with providing expert regulatory input to draft/proposed ICT legislation on the continent.

She is tasked with ensuring that the end result is one that retains the oversight role of government and fosters investor confidence while at the same time protecting vulnerable consumers. “Through my work, I hope I have made a contribution, however small, to the democratic process of Africa through the passing of laws and regulations that align with international standards and support the universally recognised right to information,” she says.

Her work on this and other related topics has been published in journals such as Without Prejudice and most recently as part of a book entitled Competition Law Enforcement in the Brics and Developing Countries. Being a young woman in a male-dominated industry has been a significant challenge, particularly in territories outside of South Africa. “I have sadly experienced institutionalised patriarchal attitudes and sexism so frequently,” she says.

“It has been discouraging. Despite the significant contributions that women make to society every day, these issues are still very prevalent. In many ways, it feels as though we are regressing as a society. “ Buthelezi emphasises that the law is a competitive field and is definitely not as glamorous or financially rewarding as series like Suits would have us believe. “However, it is a field that is full of opportunities for those who will seize them,” she says. “In the right environment and organisation, it is also a deeply satisfying career, especially when there is a social dividend to the work that one does, as I have been fortunate enough to experience in organisations such as the Competition Commission of South Africa.”

— Kerry Haggard

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ ziyanda-buthelezi-4a809931