The Democratic Alliance has, on Thursday, called on embattled chair of the Independent Electoral Commission to consider resigning from her position as a way of saving the commission’s integrity.
This call was made by the DA’s federal executive chairman, James Selfe, who said that the credibility and stability of the commission was at stake because of Tlakula’s conduct. Selfe’s sentiments come close on the heels of the Wednesday ruling by the electoral court judge who ruled that the IEC chairperson acted in violation of her role as a leader of the Chapter nine institution when she allowed the leasing of the IEC headquarters in Centurion to a company that was co-owned by a man she was rumored to be romantically involved with.
In his ruling, Judge Wepener found that, in allowing Thaba Mafumadi’s company to lease the commission’s building, Pansy Tlakula had not only broken the law, but that she had also failed to take responsibility for her actions. He recommended in his report that she be removed from her position.
What Judge Wepener found about this notorious business transaction is nothing new but is the hollow echo of numerous other entities that also found the same. Late in 2013, the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela also came to the same conclusion in her investigation of the office of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission. Madonsela found that in addition, Tlakula had also failed to provide appropriate guidance to her subordinates. She had also recommended that the IEC leader be removed from her position. Her report was also authenticated by an independent forensic audit report by Pricewaterhouse Cooper, which had also come to the same conclusion regarding Tlakula’s conduct.
A few months before the May 7 elections, a coalition of political parties attempted to make an urgent push for the removal of Tlakula from her position. In their affidavit, the parties, which included the Economic Freedom Fighters and the United Democratic Movement argued that if she was allowed to run the elections, Tlakula would bring the elections to disrepute and further that these elections would lose credibility both nationally and internationally. On Wednesday, when it emerged that the electoral court had ruled that Tlakula be removed, Bantu Holomisa of the UDM, said that it was long overdue for her to be relieved of her duties.
It is against this backdrop that Selfe recommends that Tlakula steps down of her own accord. This apparently comes in the wake of calls to the effect that the removal of the IEC chair can be a long, tedious and well drawn out process.