Public Protector Thuli Madonsela gave an Animal Farm-inspired speech to legal graduates at the University of Pretoria yesterday and she urged them to protect the constitution and the legacy of the democratic founders of the country. She went on to warn them against what she referred to as “the pigs” from the literary classic.
“Do not allow our beautiful country to become something similar to … Animal Farm,” she urged. In the classic, written by George Orwell in 1945, animals are used as allegories representing members of society. The pigs represent the political and economic elite who start out as revolutionaries who help the masses overcome oppression, but then turn out to be oppressors themselves when they gain power.
“If they call you counter-revolutionary because you seek to play a part in protecting the legacy, wear that as a badge of honour knowing that true and selfless revolutionaries such as [Che] Guevara, [Amicar] Cabral and [Oliver] Tambo would view counter-revolutionaries as those that steal or enable the stealing of state resources meant to deliver the constitutional dream.”
She implored graduates to protect the constitution, describing the current generation “the one the country, the continent and the world has been waiting for”.
Her spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, said Madonsela based her view on the World Economic Forum’s study on millennials which found, among other things, that this generation was socially conscious, concerned about social justice and ready to take up positions in society to effect progress for common good.
Madonsela said in South Africa’s constitutional democracy the constitution, and not parliament, was supreme and signified a break from the apartheid state, which was based on parliamentary sovereignty. Political analyst Daniel Silke said Madonsela’s speech was clearly aimed at her detractors in government.
“[She] is taking aim at her detractors in government and the remarks are a response to the continued questioning of her role in the Nkandla investigation.” Silke said her speech also seemed directed at the backlash she has received from the ANC in the aftermath of the Constitutional Court judgment regarding her remedial action on Nkandla.