Thuli has set the standard

2016-10-09 12:23

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The natural reaction of many South Africans to the departure of Thuli Madonsela from the Public Protector’s office is one of sadness and foreboding.

In the seven years that Madonsela has been at the helm of this chapter 9 institution, she has almost become an embodiment of the society we sought to create when we crossed from the dirty apartheid past to what we believed would be a land fertile for the creation of a good society.

She was values, she was principle, she was ethics she was constitutionality, she was compassion, she was humility, she was justice. She was human too and, as such, was not immune from making mistakes.

Our sadness about her departure is in large part because of the fact that we outsourced these qualities to her. We wanted her to stand up for what we were either too lazy or too afraid to stand up for. We expected her to be our moral conscience and the person who made us feel positive about the resilience of our democracy. In essence, we outsourced our civic duties to her and oohed and aahed in admiration as she did what she was constitutionally bound to do.

In our admiration, we forgot that we too were as duty bound to build the constitutional democracy, bat for the little guy and hold power accountable.

As Madonsela leaves the office of the Public Protector, she does so having set the standard, not only for her successor, but for all citizens. She has proved that one does not have to be a Nelson Mandela clone to emulate the great man’s contribution. All of us can do so in our small way in our respective spaces. All it takes is a commitment to creating a good South Africa – a South Africa that strives to live up to the ideals of the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.

The people of South Africa are grateful to Madonsela for her selfless and tireless service to the nation and trust that she will continue to serve the nation in another capacity.

In the coming months and years, there will be pressure on the incoming Busisiwe Mkhwebane to be like Madonsela. Unfair comparisons will be made.

But Mkhwebane must be allowed to be her own person and put her own imprint on the office. She must be prepared to be the target of poisoned arrows from obese youth league leaders, military veterans who have never fired a gun and mindless agitators whose agenda is to protect the corrupt.

Read more on:    public protector  |  thuli madonsela

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