Why I stand for Thuli Madonsela

2014-04-16 13:34

As many of us gear up to celebrate the Easter holidays and look forward to the many public holidays ahead, some of us are reflecting on ‘Freedom Month’ in South Africa. The 27th of April 1994, marked the first democratic elections in South Africa’s history. This was a landmark moment for the women and men of South Africa and the world stood and watched. It was an even bigger moment for the individuals tasked with drafting our very progressive Constitution which was promulgated in 1996. One of those brave legal minds was Advocate Thulisile (Thuli) Nomkhosi Madonsela, now the Public Protector of South Africa.

There are very few people who I can honestly say I am a super fan of, but Mam’Thuli takes my lifetime award for super role model and inspiration.  You first came onto my radar when you were was nominated for and officially appointed as the Public Protector in 2009.  I engraved both your name and history in my mind. I knew I had to look out for you, you had achieved a lot as a black woman coming from very humble beginnings in one of the sprawling townships of South Africa. Thrust into exile to further your studies in Swaziland, then  returned home with even more conviction to contribute to change. Your work as both a teacher, unionist, human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist have served you well for the very prestigious office you now hold.  Your dedication and hard work in the legal arena paid off these many years later.

You are a household name, a hero for many, a role model for a lot of  black women and girls and most importantly a true representative of the word ‘public servant'. As one of eleven architects of the South African Constitution, you work hard to safeguard its integrity.

Mam'Thuli, you are a fierce warrior, forthright, hardworking, meticulous, direct but yet soft spoken. You are a woman of virtue, a moral compass for many, and a true citizen who understands that your humanity is intertwined with all of ours. The resilience, dignity and courage you have shown in the face of abuse, veiled threats and attacks both to your character and humanity as well as the Office of the Public Protector;  are but a few of the many commendable traits you posses.

On the 6th of June 2013, I had the pleasure of being an audience member at a Human Sciences Research Council, Agenda Feminist Media Project and Oxfam Dialogue session titled ‘Approaching 20 years of Democracy: Women, Leadership and Transformation’.  Mam’Thuli, you were one of five speakers at the event. I only cared to hear you. I vividly remember your opening remark about having a mini ‘fashion crisis’ because you did not know what to wear to a gathering of feminists. Your soft pink blouse did the trick.  I digress, the most important part was that your seat on the panel on women, leadership and the state of transformation in South Africa was benefiting. You have shown tremendous leadership at a time when South Africa faces a crisis of leadership. You have shown many what it means to take responsibility, be accountable, ethical, decisive in decision-making and follow consistent action. I applaud you.

So as you defiantly endure the ongoing critiques, fight the vehement indignation of many to see the truth, know that there is double that many South Africans in your corner quietly supporting you as you work in the trenches.

Mam’Thuli, if you ever run for president, you’ve got my vote.

Viva qhawekazi, Viva Mam'Thuli.

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