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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela re fake qualifications, her powers, adversaries and Nkandla

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Protected Selfie: Matshelane Mamabolo following
his interview with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Matshelane Mamabolo recently interviewed South Africa's public protector, Thuli Madonsela for Here is his account of the interview:

Soft-spoken and measured, I found that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s posture belies her powerful role in the fight against maladministration and corruption since the start of her tenure five years ago. Recently honoured by Transparency International with the integrity award for 2014, Advocate Madonsela BA Law (Uniswa) LLB (Wits) has been a recipient of a number of local and international awards for her work.

Ms Madonsela started her answer to my first question by making me aware that it had to do with what she views as the ‘’lowest point’’ in her work as a Public Protector. She said to me, “I suppose it is the lowest point for anyone who has to do adjudicative work or quasi-judicial work that often you have to judge people who are your friends or colleagues or people you love.’’ She proceeded to confirm to during our interview that although she hopes for rapprochement, she has not spoken to former IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula since she made findings that led to her resignation two months ago.

In a bid to clarify her role in our democracy, something she’s had to do frequently during her term of office, she said that although most people think that the only decisions that can be enforced are those made by a court through the Sheriff and the Police, ‘’The architecture of our Constitution introduces novel things. The implementation of remedial action by a Public Protector or an Ombudsman is through pushing them [those faulted], asking them and sitting down with them and if that fails a debate in Parliament and obviously if that fails the matter could land in court.’’

The Public Protector is concerned about narratives in the public domain which she says represent a turnaround regarding what is ethical and what isn’t as well as on what should happen when there is an ethical violation. Recent attacks on her office include those from a ‘’group of concerned lawyers’’ who rubbished her report on the misuse of public funds during upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home, called on her to resign and even offered to pay back the money on President Zuma’s behalf. “[someone else paying back the money] still does not deal with the Executive Members Act because it divorces the money from accountability [by the President]’’ She added that although she is not saying that people shouldn’t question her decisions she expects differently from lawyers who should know that decisional independence is non-negotiable.

Advocate Madonsela also told that her office had not received a complaint regarding SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala after Unisa’s confirmation that she had not been awarded a BCom degree and a postgraduate degree in labour relations as she claimed on her CV. The office of the Public Protector also provides support to tertiary institutions when it comes to complaints regarding examinations and other administrative processes. Thuli Madonsela’s non-renewable seven year term as Public Protector ends in 2016.

*Please visit for audio clips from the interview.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 November 2014 15:28  
Comments (1)Comments are closed
1Monday, 08 December 2014 12:40
Nice article, looking forward to listening to the audioclips.