Whispering Truth to Power gives an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Thuli Madonsela’s last year as South Africa’s Public Protector. The doccie was described by the Hot Docs jury as a:
“Timely portrait of a bad-ass public servant who uses her office for good at a pivotal moment in South African politics.”
A perfect fit for Women’s Month, the acclaimed documentary won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs, North America’s most important documentary festival.
Thuli Madonsela – SA’s former Public Protector
Madonsela is an advocate and professor of law, and was instrumental in drafting South Africa’s constitution. She also brought to light the R246m worth of upgrades at former President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
In an interview, filmmaker Shameela Seedat explained that Madonsela caught her attention “as an intriguing film subject when we all got to witness first-hand her calm and quiet determination in insisting that the president pay back the money
Seedat added: “Whether you agreed with her or not, here was a determined and idealistic public office-bearer who was acting in concrete ways to back it up.”
Zuma, the Guptas and State Capture
Madonsela successfully challenged former President Jacob Zuma for spending funds unlawfully, and investigated the systematic takeover of government by a private family, despite receiving death threats and facing legal challenges.
“Corruption erodes everything that is good.”
The story Whispering Truth To Power has to tell is sobering for South Africans. Her son, Wantu, explains early on in the documentary:
“In other countries, people don’t know who the ombudsman is. If the government is doing their job properly, then the ombudsman is not this celebrated figure who is fighting the good fight, because there shouldn’t be that fight.”
Thuli Madonsela – behind the scenes
While the documentary includes the investigation into Zuma, the Guptas, and the state capture, it also provides a behind-the-scenes look at her life as a single, working mother of two adult children.
Seedat describes Madonsela as someone how is “willing to think out of the box, to say what is unpopular, and who will fight for what she sees as the truth.” She adds:
“On the outside she has reached a level of maturity that allows her to maintain her calm and Zen. And during such turbulent times as we have witnessed in South Africa, I think that a large part of her appeal was that she calmly and steadfastly kept a line open to South Africans, constantly reminding them that the fight for public accountability is a worthwhile one and that there should be concrete results.”
Thuli Madonsela is an inspiration to many, and it was just one of the many reason why the former public protector was included in our Women’s Day lineup of the most influential women in South Africa.
Whispering Truth To Power is just one of a number of great films and series by accomplished South African women currently streaming on Showmax.