Outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela saved the ANC from itself from time to time, the party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, has said.
Mantashe was addressing guests at Madonsela’s farewell in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. He was joined by other politicians who thanked her for her work throughout her seven-year tenure.
“You saved us from ourselves from time to time, that is something we have not acknowledged publicly, but do so quietly,” said Mantashe.
He also said she needed to admit that, without the ruling party, she would have had a boring term.
Different leaders have been vocal in their criticism of Madonsela over the years, with some even calling her a CIA agent whose task was to contribute to destabilising the state. The attacks on Madonsela and her office were heightened following the release of her investigation into security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.
Mantashe said Madonsela was leaving office having made the ruling party wiser.
“Every report made us think – it became a point of learning. I assure you that you leave the ANC a wiser party, as you go.”
He told Madonsela that he would miss her visits to the party’s headquarters at Luthuli House.
“I will miss is your visits to our offices as a party to ask us difficult questions and to allow us to engage you,” Mantashe told her.
He shared his dismay that she was receiving a farewell before the release of her final report.
Final report on state capture
Madonsela, who has only a week left in office, has promised to release a report on her investigation into state capture, after allegations that the influential Gupta family had a hand in key decisions made by Zuma, including the appointment of ministers.
“Many describe the report, but have not seen it. This is the final push, bidding you farewell before we see that final push.”
The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa told Madonsela that he knew “the pressures you endured during your innings… occupying] the crease until the last ball”.
He praised her for doing a stellar job while in office. He said that, through her work, South Africans of all backgrounds associated the office with the need to promote clean government.
Holomisa said, although instruments and systems existed to fight corruption, it remained a stubborn problem.
“There is a negative influence of the political directive, when the executive undermines the role of departmental officers, putting the interests of individuals and parties ahead of national ones and a lack of transparency with the reporting of corruption,” Holomisa said.
‘Join the EFF’
He said that, although it was sad to part ways with Madonsela, there was some relief in knowing that she had laid a firm foundation for her successor.
The EFF’s Dali Mpofu also lauded Madonsela for her role.
“[It is] no exaggeration that she’s had a huge impact on each of the values that make up South Africa’s Constitution,” Mpofu told guests.
In a relatively short address, he said he hoped she would do one of three things when she walked away from her job on October 15.
“Hopefully you will join the bar or advocates profession in South Africa. If you do, you’ll be welcomed by me. Maybe you will join our judiciary, where I think you would be great.
“There you will be interviewed and welcomed by [EFF leader] Julius Malema, or you can do something to keep us from fighting, where you will be welcomed by both Julius and myself, and that is to join the EFF.”