My Hero of the Month: Thuli Madonsela – May 2014

As a young pre-school child, my maternal grandmother taught me a handful of Xhosa words, many of which I remember to this day. Amongst them was the word thula meaning to be quiet.

Zuma must be rueing the day that he appointed Thuli as Public Protector. As a male chauvinist and conforming to all the outdated cultural beliefs of his ancestors, he would have expected her to keep quiet and to know her place in society.

But Thuli was the antithesis of the woman that would remain silent when her primary role was to expose malfeasance and inappropriate use of the public purse. Instead she took her job to heart and actually performed it not with a lackadaisical couldn’t-care-less attitude so beloved of South African civil servants, but with diligence and determination to uncover the maladministration layer by layer like peeling an onion.

Like into vegetable variety, in this process she must had shed tears for the once proud party being revealed for a bunch of kleptomaniacs let loose with the keys to the money safe.

It is only her steely resolve and fortitude that has staunched those tears as she grimly and resolutely proceeded with the task at hand.

Finally Thuli Madonsela has obtained some international recognition for her sterling efforts. The 5th May 2014 edition of the Time Magazine has accorded her the accolade of being amongst the top 100 most influential people globally.

This is what they have to say in recognition of her efforts:

 South Africa’s fearless Public Advocate

 Thuli Madonsela is an inspirational example of what African public officers need to be. Her work on Constitutional Reform, land reform and the struggle for the protection of human rights and equality speaks for itself. As South Africa’s Public Protector, with her ability to speak truth to power and to address corruption in high places, Madonsela has been outstanding.

 To speak about corruption in high places is often subversive and always embarrassing. The machinery of state can be called upon to intimidate or even destroy and eliminate whistle-blowers. It therefor requires extraordinary courage and patriotism to do what Thuli Madonsela has done. Yet in standing up for the truth as she sees it, she has assured herself as place in history of modern South Africa and is among the tiny but growing band of African public servants giving us hope for the future of our continent.

 I could not have stated it more eloquently or as the ancient Romans would have retorted: Sic erat scriptum [“Thus it was written” for those who did not take Latin at school.]

Her example should be a clarion call for all of those who wish to have South Africa free of the scourge of corruption.

I rest my case.

Thuli Madonsela is a worthy monthly winner and perchance the annual winner for 2014.

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