Mr Buthelezi obtained his BCom degree while on Robben Island.
He obtained an honours degree at the University of Cape Town after his release, and later completed a master's degree.
Mr Buthelezi joined the ANC at the age of 20 in 1981 and formed part of the Ingwavuma unit that was sent to experiment with setting up the first military bases for the ANC in the country. He was arrested and sent to Robben Island for eight years, until 1991.
Between 1994 and 1999, Buthelezi served as an adviser to Zuma when the latter was economic development MEC in KwaZulu-Natal. He was also an adviser to Mathews Phosa when the latter was the Mpumalanga premier.
He was appointed the founding chairperson of the National Gambling Board in 1999.
He served on the Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of SA)board for 10 years, starting as an ordinary director for four years, and then became chairman for six years until in 2014.
He is the former COO of the Makana Investment Corporation.