Soffa Lecture to feature South Africa’s ‘state conscience’

South Africa’s Public Protector is among several state institutions supporting the democracy established under the country’s celebrated Constitution, which gives equal value to all human rights, including social and economic rights and ethical governance.

Thulisile Madonsela, the Public Protector of South Africa, is scheduled to deliver this year’s J. Jobe Soffa and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Distinguished Keynote Lecture. This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday, April 13, at 4:00 p.m., in the On Wisconsin Room, Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, Madison.

In her lecture, titled “Righting State Wrongs: Enforcing the South African Constitution through the office of the Public Protector,” Madonsela will touch on the enabling constitutional and legal framework, key milestones and impact on public accountability in the last few years and future prospects for this institution.

Often referred to as the people’s voice and the state’s conscience, the Public Protector has emerged as a key non-judicial enforcement mechanism for rights guaranteed in the Constitution, particularly administrative justice rights and socioeconomic rights.

As Public Protector, Thulisile Madonesla has gained international acclaim for the integrity and courage with which she has investigated government corruption throughout South Africa.

Early in her career, Madonesla taught law; as South Africa moved toward democracy, she helped draft the country’s post-apartheid constitution in 1994.

Before becoming Public Protector, Madonsela worked for the ANC-led government on issues of gender equity and labor law, serving on the Independent Electoral Commission and in the Department of Justice.

She is a co-architect of Justice Vision 2000, the National Action Plan on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Employment Equity Act, Local Government Transition Act and has contributed to several other laws enacted to transform the SA legal system since 1994.

She is a member of several professional bodies, including Executive Secretary of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA), a Patron of the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA), a member of the International Ombudsman Association and Fraud Examiners’ Association, the World Justice Forum, and the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL).

This event is made possible by the Soffa Distinguished International Visitor Fund which provides a regular public lecture on contemporary issues of global significance.

This year’s event also ties in with 50/Forward: A Half-Century of African Studies at Wisconsin, a celebration of African Studies which will culminate on April 20-22, at the Pyle Center.