The new Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, has vowed that she would not be a push-over for any political party in her new role.

Madonsela is the first woman to head a government watchdog and was appointed by President Jacob Zuma after being unanimously recommended by a multi-party committee of MPs.

In an interview with the Cape Times on Wednesday, and three days into her new job, the Soweto-born mother of two said she would be "fair" in her investigations regardless whether of they involved high-profile politicians or public servants.

"No human being has ever intimidated me in my whole life," said Madonsela, who helped in drafting the country's constitution in the early 1990s. She would have to be able to live with her decisions and would evaluate each case independently against the law and government policy.

"I will not be intimidated. I will only make decisions that would allow me to sleep well at night and look my children in the face.

"Unfortunately, I have full-grown children who have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. If I can look at myself in the mirror and say this is fine ... I would be happy," Madonsela said.

She was interested in how the government perceived her office's mandate to hold the state to account, saying the Office of the Public Protector should rather be closed down if there was an attempt to sway her decisions.

"In terms of government, I am interested, of course, how they perceive the institution.

"Our decisions must not be swayed by the perceptions, they should be swayed by what is right.

"I have never been a push-over, but that doesn't mean I would never collaborate with stakeholders where appropriate," Madonsela said.

The daughter of a domestic worker mother and a taxi driver father, the resolute former teacher is also a motivational speaker, a prolific author and drafter of some of the country's landmark legislation, including the Employment Equity Act, the Local Government Transition Act and the Green Paper on Employment Equity.

She said her experience as commissioner in the SA Law Reform Commission and at the Centre for Reconciliation and Equality Studies, among other roles, had prepared her well for the task ahead.

Madonsela's nomination for the watchdog role was widely welcomed by opposition parties in Parliament, unlike her predecessor, advocate Lawrence Mushwana, whose nomination was opposed by the Democratic Alliance in 2002.

She intends to make the turnaround time on all investigations faster and to ensure that, in every area of service delivery, the general public is aware the Public Protector can be of help.