Thuli Madonsela is a powerful woman. There’s simply no other way to say it.
The South African advocate is the current Public Protector of South Africa. In October 2009, she succeeded the former Public Protector – Lawrence Mushwana.
Just to provide a better understanding of the power she holds, the office of the Public Protector was created to protect the fundamental human rights and public interests of the South African people.
The office, which is an external institution, was created to supplement South Africa’s constitutional democracy. It is tasked with the responsibility of investigating any misconduct in state affairs across all scopes of the government.
Born in Johannesburg on the 28th of September in 1962, Thulisile ‘Thuli’ Madonsela grew up in Soweto.
Thuli Madonsela attended Evelyn Baring High School in Swaziland and went on to study at the University of Swaziland where she graduated with a BA in Law in 1987. In 1990, she got her LLB from the University of Witwatersrand.
Awards and Recognition
In 2013, she was awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree (LL.D) by University of Fort Hare. In March 2015, University of Stellenbosch awarded her an LL.D as well.
In April 2015, Rhodes University joined the movement and awarded her a Doctor of Laws Degree too.
The University of Cape Town was not to be left out and in June 2015, they awarded Thuli Madonsela the much deserved LL.D.
Whoever said too much of anything is bad didn’t know what they were talking about.
Due to her charisma, integrity and impressive decorum, these are not the only awards she has garnered over the years.
The Daily Maverick named her ‘South African Person of the Year’ in 2011.
At the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2014, she was presented the ‘Woman of Courage’ award.
Also in 2014, Time Magazine commended her exemplary turn in public office and included her in their famed ‘100 most influential people in the world’ list.
2014 was a good year for Thuli Madonsela. She was also awarded ANN7’s ‘South African of the Year’ award and the ‘Integrity Award’ from Transparency International.
In 2016, she received the FW de Klerk Goodwill Award.
She is also a respected author with several publications.
Some of which include:
• Beyond Putting Women on the Agenda.
• A fair deal for the woman worker?
• Secure in Comfort.
• Women and the Law in South Africa: Gender Equality jurisprudence in landmark Court decisions.
Thuli Madonsela is more than just an award winning public official. She’s also a mother two.
She has raised her son and daughter to exhibit the same prime qualities she has become known for.
Her son even dubbed her ‘the greatest person’ he knows.
Being a mother, people frequently ask if she is married; unfortunately, her husband passed away when the children were still very young.
Madonsela is a member of the African National Congress (ANC). During the years of apartheid, she served both in the ANC and the United Democratic Front – an anti apartheid organization.
Since the 80s, she has not only worked for both the private and public sector but also for trade unions.
Madonsela has never actively sought a political office.
She declined the position to be an ANC Member of Parliament in 1994 for the first port apartheid parliament in South Africa.
She was part of the team that drafted the constitution of South Africa which was adopted by Nelson Mandela in 1996.
She was a full-time member of the South African Law Reform until she appointed as South Africa’s Public Protector by President Jacob Zuma.
For her job as Public Protector she has handled several high profile cases including the investigation Julius Malema on bribery charges.
She also investigated complaints about the spending of public funds on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.
In her Nkandla report, she revealed that the president had gained profited from the R246million which the state spent to upgrade the premises.
Her report was met with reprimand and criticisms from ANC reprsentatives. Even prior to the release of the report, several attempts were made to undermine the report.
After the release of the report, African National Congress Youth League demanded for her resignation.
Several attempts were made to discredit the Nkandla report criticizing it for it supposed political overtones.
On the 14th of August 2014, the president made a submission to parliament in reply to the report. However, Madonsela said the submission was an inadequate response.
On the 28th of August 2014, Thuli Madonsela held a press conference defending the actions.
On the 31st March 2016, South Africa’s constitutional court unanimously demmed the report binding. They called out the National assembly for failing to uphold the country’s constitution. They also ordered the National Treasury to decide on an amount which Jacob Zuma would have to replay within 45 days of their approval of the National Treasury’s report.
Her salary has repeatedly been called into question by the criticizers
While I’m not entirely sure she set out to challenge the gender norms both in the political and legal arenas in South Africa – she has certainly done that.
A trailblazer and an icon, Thuli Madonsela has evolved into the embodiment of integrity that not only women but also all public officials should seek to emulate.