PUBLIC protector advocate Thuli Madonsela’s reputation for hard hitting, no-nonsense investigations into state corruption and maladministration is earning her fanatical support.
She is determined to do what is right and fair, and to make sure those who are wronged by the state are given redress.
During the Daily Dispatch- University of Fort Hare Dialogues this week, dozens of Eastern Cape citizens, some from as far as Graaff-Reinet and Mthatha, queued up to submit their complaints.
Madonsela said she wanted South Africans complaining of being wronged by organs of the state to have access to the justice principles enshrined in the Constitution through her office.
She advised complainants to approach her office within two years, as it was easier to access information for evidence which would help the investigation.
In some cases, according to Madonsela, the organs of state use the letter of the law to protect themselves but treat citizens unfairly.
Madonsela’s office is investigating the R250-million bill for the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
Her investigation into lease agreements involving former police commissioner Bheki Cele is credited with leading to Cele’s dismissal.
For Madonsela’s office, the test goes beyond lawfulness to fairness and proper conduct.
“Just because it’s lawful, does not necessarily make it right,” said Madonsela.
However, Madonsela cannot investigate cases where a court decision has been made.
“This week I had to explain to a group from the Eastern Cape that I could not help them.
“The Eastern Cape government had failed to keep a promise to find them jobs after they were retrenched. The court found that it was contrary to public morality and that government had no authority to promise jobs ,” said Madonsela.
Madonsela said more South Africans should complain for the sake of stability.
Madonsela received a warm response from an audience of about 500 at the Guild Theatre.
She said accessibility was a challenge for her office .
H er team of 400 had dealt with at least 63763 complaints between 2009 and 2012; 45643 of them have been finalised.
On criticism and information peddling against her office she said: “My approach is just to do my job. ”
Daily Dispatch leader page editor Dawn Barkhuizen described this week’s dialogues as one of the most successful hosted by the Daily Dispatch and the University of Fort Hare in the past five and a half years. — firstname.lastname@example.org
Protecting the public interest
by Daily Dispatch
THULI MADONSELA joined us to discuss strengthening the Office of the Public Protector as well as other protections guaranteed in Chapter 9 of the Constitution.
She spoke about the efficacy of her office, the big challenges and any constraints, as well as protecting whistleblowers and how to bring matters to her attention. She was in conversation with Brendan Boyle, editor of the Dispatch.
TO WATCH THE DIALOGUE FOLLOW THE LINK:
Advocate Thulisile (Thuli) Nomkhosi Madonsela, was appointed by the President as South Africa’s third Public Protector in October 2009 after being recommended by Parliament following a hundred percent vote in her favour by all parties represented in Parliament.
A human rights and constitutional lawyer, equality expert and policy specialist with over two decades of post legal qualification experience, Advocate Madonsela holds a BA Law (UNISWA) and an LLB (Wits). Her postgraduate studies include partial LLM studies and legal courses mainly in the area of equality, administrative justice, legal drafting and public administration. She is also trained in Strategic Planning, Scenario, Project Management and has participated in several Executive Management and Leadership courses, including Women’s Leadership Development.
One of the drafters of South Africa’s post apartheid constitution, Advocate Thuli Madonsela forfeited a Harvard scholarship to focus on her constitution drafting role as one of the Technical advisers that worked with National Assembly in drafting the current Constitution. She is co-architect of Justice Vision 2000, the National Action Plan on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Employment Equity Act, Local Government Transition Act and has contributed to several other laws enacted to transform the SA legal system since 1994, including the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Repeal of the Black Administration Act. She has also participated in several international forums and contributed to key international documents, including the Beijing +5 and WCAR Outcomes documents and several country human rights reports.
At the time of appointment as Public Protector, Adv Madonsela was the only full-time Commissioner in the South African Law Reform Commission where in addition to managing the Commission’s entire programme, her specific projects included a Statutory Law Revision Project whose focus was constitutional alignment and updating the law; and the Commission’s project on the Review of the interpretation Act. She is also a co-architect of several policies, including the policy framework that formed the basis of the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disability. She has also held various senior positions in government and civil society.
Advocate Madonsela has been involved in human rights and civic activism since the early 80s and held several leadership positions. She has been a member of several professional bodies, including the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA), African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL), Black Lawyers Association (BLA) and the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA). Adv Madonsela has provided extensive training and addresses conferences on equality and the other areas of her expertise. She has written extensively and her written works include journal articles, book chapters, books, learning resources. Her key achievements in this regard including co-authoring a Bench Book for Equality Courts, Resource Book for Equality Court Clerks, SAWLA Legal Advice Handbook on Family Law and Related Matters and Handbooks on Gender Management and Gender Mainstreaming.