iMaverick & Daily Maverick name Thuli Madonsela Person of the Year for 2011

"Madonsela's commitment to truth and unwavering courage in executing her power as an ombudsman that serves the citizens of South Africa made her our natural choice," says Branko Brkic, editor of iMaverick and Daily Maverick.
Fearless corruption buster Thuli Madonsela has been named iMaverick and Daily Maverick's Person of the Year for 2011.

This year the Public Protector released reports that excoriated two cabinet ministers and former police commissioner Bheki Cele. Her recommendation was that president Jacob Zuma "take the appropriate action", an appeal the president eventually responded to by wielding his sword at the fingered culprits.

In a cabinet Spring clean following Madonsela's report, former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and traditional affairs and cooperative governance minister, Sicelo Shiceka both got the axe. Cele was suspended pending a full investigation into dodgy police lease agreements.

"Madonsela has earned significant respect for being an anti-corruption stalwart as well as for playing her role without fear or favour, but it's the work she does to champion the rights of ordinary men and woman in South Africa that's winning her hearts across the land," says Brkic.

"We chose to profile the Public Protector not only because she is influential and newsworthy, but because she is so exemplary and effective. In a year that has been riddled with service delivery crises, corruption and government maladministration, Madonsela is a beacon of action that delivers results. More so she is a positive role model, an astute public servant and a survivor. She's the kind of woman that demands respect and who undoubtedly changed the course of this country for the better in 2011," Brkic says.

Born in Johannesburg in 1962, Madonsela began her career in the early 1980s as a teacher, before she became involved in union work as an advisor for the National Union of Printers and Allied Workers. She completed a bachelor of arts in law at the University of Swaziland, and an LLB at the University of Witswatersrand in 1990.

In 1990, she was the Independent Electoral Commission's presiding officer. When the new Constitution was drafted, she was appointed as one of 11 technical experts. After that, she worked in a variety of parastatal bodies and trusts before becoming a director at the Waweth Law and Policy Research Agency, which she owns.

In 2009, Zuma appointed her the new Public Protector.

A human rights and constitutional lawyer, Madonsela forfeited a Harvard scholarship to focus to become one of the technical advisors that worked with the Constitutional Assembly in drafting the Constitution. That same constitution has created a number of institutions to "strengthen constitutional democracy in the Republic" and prescribes powers that allow the office of the Public Protector to investigate any concerns about maladministration or improper conduct in any sphere of government (save for the court decisions).

From her days as a teacher, to being a technical expert during the drafting of the constitution, as a law reformer and finally a public ombudsman, Thuli Madonsela has always been on the people's side. In 2011, she reminded the people of South Africa once again to believe that the Constitution will always be bigger than anything thrown at it, as long as it is guarded by committed people.

6 Dec 2011 12:56