Distinguished Alumni Award 2018
Xolani Maxwell Boqwana is an internationally respected lawyer, having occupied leadership roles in the Legal Profession at home and abroad. Max is the former Secretary General and later the President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), a Co-Chairperson of the Law Society of South Africa for an unprecedented three-year term, and a Treasurer of the Regional body, SADC Lawyers Association and currently its President and has served as the Member of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).
Max was elected by the Attorneys Profession to guide and lead the progress of negotiations and drafting of the Legal Practice Act, which seeks to unify, transform the Legal Profession and strengthen the regulation of all Legal Practitioners in South Africa. This process which took over a decade involved all the Advocates, Attorneys, Academics groupings in South Africa and the Department of Justice. Such task has now been successfully concluded on the 31st October 2018, ushering a new Act, Regulations and a new democratic and demographically representative leadership of the Legal Profession for the first time in the history of South Africa.
The Legal Practice Act is intended to contribute to the struggle of transforming the profession as well as bringing about more equality amongst legal practitioners. He has travelled all over the country, including Makhanda on several occasions, educating people about the importance as well as impact of the Legal Practice Act.
Having recently been appointed as the President of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Lawyers Association, Max is currently leading the 15 Bar Associations in the SADC Region. His focus is on the promotion of the Rule of Law, Human Rights, the harmonisation of laws and strengthening the capacity of the various Bar Associations and their membership.
Max, as a Professional, is a Senior Partner of the Law Firm, Boqwana Burns, based in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. He has extensive knowledge and experience in the legal fraternity, boasting considerable experience in litigation, commercial as well as constitutional law.
Max is also part of the Afrocentric Coalition of Law Firms, African Law Practice (ALP) with presence in 8 African Countries, where he guides the Firm’s strategy, talent identification and development, to share his extensive networks, skill and experience with younger Lawyers. He has been involved in some ground-breaking matters, including the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as various major transactions in and outside South Africa and the current work relating to State Capture Inquiry. Currently he is also the attorney of record for Former Minister of Finance, Mr Mcebisi Jonas in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Beyond his highly involved legal work, Max has found time to involve himself in various other activities, as demonstrated by his erstwhile involvement in Cricket administration in the Eastern Cape Province and the level of Cricket South Africa. He continues to support materially rural clubs in Cricket and Football. In the past 5 (five) years, Max has been a visiting Fellow at Rhodes University, where he teaches International Human Rights Law and a new subject, Illicit Financial Flows. The University use this occasion for the delivery of Public Lectures on topical matters and for inspirational talks aimed at the first-year students.
Max has acted on several occasions, after appointment by the Minister of Justice as a Judge of the High Court and is committed to the development of progressive jurisprudence as envisaged in our Constitution.
Currently, Max is also serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, a Foundation set up by former President in 2008, to pursue the ideals of Africa’s Renaissance. Max’s responsibilities are to guide the strengthening and growth of the Foundation’s Leadership Institute, the History and Memory Project and providing assistance to former President Mbeki in his effort of resolving conflicts and ensuring lasting peace in the African Continent.
Max has gone a long way since his obtaining of BA Law and LLB degrees at Rhodes University in 1992 and 1994, respectively, to becoming the true embodiment of the “Rhodes mantra”, where leaders learn”. Max’s contribution to the development of our Country and our Continent is not only measured by his many activities, but his true and unequivocal commitment to the use of his privileged position to advance the interest of others and the good of Society.
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