ALUMNI PROFILE Buhlebenkosi Nxumalo
Fighting for the rule of law
Buhlebenkosi Nxumalo (LLM ’16) works to put people at the center of land governance
As a citizen of Zimbabwe, Buhlebenkosi Nxumalo has lived with and without the rule of law.
Once considered the “Jewel of Africa,” the southern African country of Zimbabwe was a stable, flourishing country where the general observance of the rule of law led to a strong economy and international investment. But by the late 1990s, arbitrary power and government corruption replaced the rule of law, which led to disinvestment, decline in the overall population’s health, and suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations.
Living under a repressive government but having witnessed the stability that rule of law offers, Nxumalo studied law and policy at the University of Witwatersand to understand and eventually promote legal reform in her country.
“With land governance and redistribution a central issue in Zimbabwe’s economy collapse, Nxumalo is helping her country by educating people on land corruption, transparency, and accountability.”
“I also saw it as a way to be a voice for the voiceless,” she says. After several successful years working in labor law, Nxumalo felt there was more she could do to help re-energize her country and be part of the restoration of the rule of law. She enrolled in Loyola’s Rule of Law for Development LLM program hosted in Rome, Italy, to gain the specialized training necessary to initiate positive change in her country.
Through the program, Nxumalo gained practical skills like project management and honed soft skills like listening so that she could better engage with community members to discuss solutions that promote economic and environmental justice. Loyola’s emphasis on participatory solutions changed her perspective of what can and will help a country like Zimbabwe. “Solutions are never from the top down,” she says. “People in the community want things done and find good solutions to the issues they face and that improve access to justice.”
By collaborating with classmates from four continents and 20 countries, Nxumalo also learned how regional policies are developed, and she expanded her professional contacts. Through this extensive network, she secured a position at the International Land Coalition, a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organizations working to put people at the center of land governance. With land governance and redistribution a central issue in Zimbabwe’s economy collapse, Nxumalo is helping her country by educating people on land corruption, transparency, and accountability.