Public Protector conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela was on Friday conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the University of Fort Hare’s 2013 graduation ceremony in East London, Eastern Cape.
This was in recognition of, among other things, her post legal qualification contribution of more than two decades as a human rights and constitutional lawyer, equality expert and policy specialist.
One of the drafters of South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution, the Public Protector has also served as a co-architect of various pieces of legislation, including the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Employment Equity Act and Local Government Transition Act.
Addressing the ceremony, the Public Protector told the graduates that they carried the hopes of people who looked to them to apply their competencies to lead the country and the African continent forward.
“I believe leadership is not about occupying a position of power but about influencing change in pursuit of a desired objective. If you agree with me in this regard, we are all capable of stepping up and leading no matter who we are or where we are,” she said.
“You carry the hopes of a country seeking to consolidate its constitutional democracy, having risen from the brink of catastrophe as a result of colonialism and apartheid. You also carry the hopes of our continent as it seeks to rise like a phoenix from its ashes in the quest our leaders have referred to as the African Renaissance or Africa rising.”
Reminding the graduates that they were following on the footsteps of the likes of former President Nelson Mandela, who also studied at Fort Hare, the Public Protector added that the society envisaged in the Constitution could not be delivered by the state alone, adding that everybody, including the graduates, had a role to play.
She congratulated the graduates and thanked the university for the honour bestowed on her, saying the gesture inspired her to pursue further studies.