Advocate Thuli Madonsela: Akakh’ ofana naye

2016-11-02 23:28

The lesson to draw from the Constitutional Court judgement by Chief Justice Mogeong Mogeong on the Nkandla upgrades and the recent release of the report on the state capture by the Gupta family is an episode in the country’s history that has reaffirmed almost everything that the struggle for liberation was fought for in South Africa.

Apartheid colonialism in South Africa was a crime against humanity implemented by a corrupt and racist state that did not account to anybody. Therefore, a democratic country meant the Constitution shall set out a framework to manage all relations in society. It shall consist of basic principles such as (1) multi-party democracy, (2) the doctrine and practice of separation of powers in a constitutional democracy, (3) equal human rights and access to opportunity, (4) freedom of speech and of the media, (5) equality of all before the law, and; (6) practical corrective action against racial, gender and other forms of discrimination.

The Nkandla judgement and state capture report also reaffirmed the legitimacy of the judiciary and chapter 9 institutions to the public and the world as being independent, subject only to the constitution and the law, impartial, exercising its powers and functions without fear, favour or prejudice. An opposition party that won 6% of the electorate in the 2014 national elections could submit the President and Parliament to a court of law and that court resolved against the President. The court process was broadcasted to the nation and printed on newspapers by an independent media.

Retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, speaking at his farewell dinner, said to the current Chief Justice Mogeong Mogeong after he delivered the judgement; “your integrity is without question. I say to the nation you are a safe pair of hands”.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela will be remembered in the history of South Africa for this episode. She will be remembered as the one who brought a sharp and mighty sword that chopped the ugly head of impunity off its stiffened neck. She proved that even the most successful democracies are not immune to human failure. Former President Nelson Mandela was once caught on the wrong side of a Public Protector during his term of office. When reflecting on what had happened he said “public legal processes made me stronger not irritated”.

International icons like Nelson Mandela and his collective are in the memory of excellence amongst South Africans. They embodied strong values in their public life such as unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, constructive criticism, self-criticism and mutual respect. They are called revolutionaries because they carried such values to put South Africa where it is today.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela carried herself and her work under the same values when she was Public Protector. She was humble, hardworking, disciplined, excellent and ethical. She promoted proactive citizenry by holding the leadership accountable outside elections. She submitted leaders responsible for public resources to the notion of public accountability. In summary, her principle was that “whatever resources we have, whatever policies we have, we must do the things we must do first, before we do the things we would love to do”.

The future of Constitutionalism and the rule of law in South Africa looks bright. The consolidation and entrenchment of constitutionalism and the rule of independent institutions in the conscious of the nation over the past 22 years is an achievement that should never be underestimated again. It is a milestone to celebrate as a post-colonial African country. It has ensured that whenever we come across bad leadership as a nation, such bad leadership will not go down with the country. The rule of law, constitutionalism and independent institutions shall rescue the sovereignty of the nation and its integrity against all odds.

Citizens and government leaders are aware today that there is an office of the Public Protector. They are aware that the Public Protector is accessible to all people and communities. Political parties will be more careful about the caliber of leaders they appoint to serve the public in government. They would know that to undermine ethics and ability when identifying leaders is to undermine the rule of law and the cause of social transformation.

A defective leadership not only holds back the attainment of national objectives. It also presents a difficult conundrum for the government. The legitimacy of the government would have to be compromised to embrace the defects of unethical leaders. However, the appointment of competent and ethical leaders would ensure that the integrity of the government is without question. No doubt that going forward our politics will feature quality and ethical leadership that values and respects public accountability. This borders well for the future of the nation and its integrity. The rule of law will ring fresh in the collective imagination of the public. The nation is in a safe pair of hands.

Thank you Advocate Thuli Madonsela, akakh’ ofana nawe

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