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BY BRENDAN ROANE, MARIANNE MERTEN AND MPILETSO MOTUMI
Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela woke to praise from some of her fiercest critics on Friday morning – even ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe – for being named one of the most influential people in the world.
On Thursday the US news magazine Time announced Madonsela in their list of 100 most influential people in the world.
But Madonsela said she did not initially believe she had been chosen and thought the e-mail was a scam.
Time’s announcement comes as a recently appointed parliamentary ad hoc committee prepares to deal with Madonsela’s report into state spending on the president’s private Nkandla residence.
“As South Africa’s public protector, with her ability to speak truth to power and to address corruption in high places, Madonsela has been outstanding,” wrote Lamido Sanusi, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, for Time.
Mantashe, who in the past has accused Madonsela of political interference, seemed reluctant to comment on the Time accolade.
“I can only congratulate her, that is all,” he said on Friday morning.
In December Mantashe called on Madonsela to release the full Nkandla report after snippets of the provisional report were leaked.
“Any further postponement of the report’s release allows this matter to fester in the public domain as we approach the elections,” he said then.
“This can only be construed as a delaying tactic and a political ploy to create negativity around the image and the integrity of the president of the ANC and the ANC itself.”
Another of Madonsela’s critics, Julius Malema, congratulated the public protector for the recognition despite having slammed her as a “tool” used by white minorities just five months ago. “We congratulate her, it means her work is being hailed beyond the borders of South Africa.”
In November the EFF leader attacked Madonsela after her report found a multimillion-rand contract awarded to a company partly owned by Malema’s family trust was “unlawful and invalid”.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said he could not comment on the Time announcement.
Madonsela said: “To be honest I only fully believed it yesterday when it was announced.”
She was surprised that the efforts of her office were not only being recognised at home, but elsewhere in the world.
“Like several other accolades that have been bestowed on me, my inclusion in the Time 100 list is not only a recognition of my contribution as an individual – it is an acknowledgement of the selfless efforts of the public protector team at large.”
She said she and her team would continue to draw inspiration from the fact that their efforts to help the government identify and eradicate maladministration did not go unnoticed.
No South Africans made Time’s list last year, but Olympic and Paralympic murder accused Oscar Pistorius was included in 2012.
In the past, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Cyril Ramaphosa, politician Barbara Hogan, director of District 9 Neill Blomkamp, artist William Kentridge, and physician Jacques Rossouw have made the list.
Meanwhile, parliamentary ad hoc committee chairman Cedric Frolick on Thursday called on MPs looking into Madonsela’s Nkandla report to be sober-minded.
“The highly politicised environment cannot be divorced from the elections. We have to apply our minds soberly. We need to do a thorough job.”