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Statement by Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the awarding of the German Africa Award to Thulisile Madonsela

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (23 November) on the awarding of the German Africa Award to Thulisile Madonsela:

"Thulisile Madonsela is being honoured today with the German Africa Foundation’s 2016 German Africa Award. This is a good choice and sends an important message!

In her role as Public Protector, she rendered outstanding services to democracy and the rule of law in South Africa for many years. But not only did she bring renown and prestige to the position, she always listened to people’s concerns, including and indeed especially as someone in the political spotlight. Her elegant modesty and calmness created trust and encouraged people. And she is certainly courageous. As the first woman in this position, she revealed what many people had suspected, gave a voice to the individual and was an advocate for the poor. This was not without conflict, but even death threats could not stop Ms Madonsela from fighting for what she believes in. She stood up boldly for what civil societies around the world rightfully demand, namely functioning democracies, the separation of powers, and reliable and trustworthy statehood.

Ms Madonsela is also renowned and admired for her work far beyond her own country. Today’s prize pays tribute to a courageous woman and puts the spotlight on what counts. My warmest congratulations!"

Background information:

Since 1993, the German Africa Foundation has awarded the German Africa Award to honour outstanding individuals for their long-standing endeavours to foster democracy, peace, human rights, art, culture, the social market economy and social concerns. Chosen by an independent jury, the award winners reflect a nuanced view of Africa and encourage people to get more involved with the continent and its people.

Since being awarded for the first time by former German Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker over 20 years ago, the prize has always been awarded by leading German politicians, including Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Federal President Horst Köhler. From the beginning, it has been very highly regarded in both Germany and Africa, receiving wide coverage in the media. In 2015, Federal President Joachim Gauck awarded the German Africa Award to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Houcine Abassi of Tunisia.

This year’s prize has been awarded to lawyer Thulisile Madonsela for her role as Public Protector in South Africa. The award ceremony will take place today at the Allianz office at the Brandenburg Gate. The prize will be awarded by Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.

Thulisile Madonsela is being honoured for her exceptional endeavours to defend the constitution and for her work in fighting corruption in South Africa. She served as Public Protector until October 2016, working tirelessly to uphold the principles of the rule of law in South Africa. Thulisile Madonsela was the first woman in this position, which was established to investigate corruption and abuse of power in the administration and government. As Public Protector, she took on many difficult cases, for which she also achieved international renown.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Germany - Federal Foreign Office.
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