The Corruption Crusader Urges Zero Tolerance on Gifts

December 9 marked the International Anti-Corruption day. This year, the UN highlighted the $1 trillion paid yearly in bribes and the estimated $2.6 trillion stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 percent of the global GDP.*

Thuli Madonsela is a prominent figure in combating corruption, whose actions made Time Magazine list her as one of the 100 most influential persons in the World in 2016.

This “corruption crusader” of South Africa, as BBC called her last year, spent six year working as the Public Protector of South Africa. During that time she led investigations that led to the sacking of some of the most senior figures in the country, including the chief of police from his position as well as revealing corruption done on behalf of President Jacob Zuma himself.

Thuli Madonsela attended the Swedish Forum for Human Rights in Jönköping, Sweden this November. We sat down to deepen the discussion regarding her personal thoughts on anti-corruption and human rights. Nowadays she has left her legal practice for academia, focusing on her own foundation, Thuli Madonsela Foundation (THUMA). We wanted to talk to her about corruption, why it happens and how it violates human rights.

“It is not possible to advance human rights when there is corruption because corruption violates one of the essential human rights, which is the right to equality.”

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute has during this autumn organized several lectures and events in order to push for an increased focus on the correlation between corruption and human rights. In November the institute organized a two day roundtable which gathered representatives from the UN, private companies, public associations, and human rights institutes from all over the world to discuss how corruption could be combated. Read more about some of the findings of that gathering here.

About Thuli Madonsela

Thulisile Nomkhosi “Thuli” Madonsela (born 28 September 1962) is a South African advocate and served as the Public Protector of South Africa from 19 October 2009 to 14 October 2016. In 1996, she helped draft the final constitution of South Africa promulgated by then President Nelson Mandela.

Madonsela was appointed Public Protector by President Jacob Zuma for a non-renewable seven-year term commencing 19 October 2009, with unanimous support from the multi-party National Assembly. At the announcement of her appointment, Zuma said Madonsela “will need to ensure that this office continues to be accessible to ordinary citizens and undertakes its work without fear or favour”. Madonsela likens her role as Public Protector to the Venda chief’s paternal aunt known as the makhadzi, a non-political figure who “gives the people a voice while giving the traditional leader a conscience”.