Things appear to have come to a head at the Independent Electoral Commission on Tuesday with the resignation of the chairperson, Pansy Tlakula. This follows a protracted struggle which started with the opposition political parties calling for her head prior to the elections and ending with her failed attempt to clear her name with the courts.
The main argument emanated from the procurement by the commission of its Riverside Office Park Building in Centurion, Pretoria. The main bone of contention was that Tlakula did not disclose her romantic ties to the person involved in facilitating the procurement process. This brought in the dreaded Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector as well as a forensic investigation by PriceWaterhouse Cooper that revealed that the procurement process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost effective. Furthermore, the investigations found that Tlakula did not give adequate guidance or formally inform people she needed to on what was expected of them. Both the Public Protector as well as the forensic investigation were in agreement on the issue.
Prior to the May 7 elections, several opposition parties that include the United Democratic Party, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, AgangSA and the Economic Freedom Fighters called on the IEC Chairperson to resign because of the results of these two investigations. They argued that her integrity had been compromised by this incident, meaning that it would cast a shadow on the outcome of the elections. They were, however, not able to get their way. They followed the case up after elections and were granted their wish and recommended that she be asked to step down.
In her contention on Tuesday, Pansy Tlakula argued that she had not been accused of corruption in both investigations and added that the process to try and clear her name was beginning to seem long and drawn out. She added that, for the sake of the Commission, she had finally decided to abandon the process and resign. She said that she had submitted her letter of resignation to President Jacob Zuma. Ms Tlakula stressed that she was leaving the Commission with a heavy heart even though she did not elaborate. She thanked the President, the National Assembly as well as the people of South Africa for having afforded her the opportunity to head such an important institution in the democracy of the republic. Tlakula contended in her speech that, in the thirteen years that she had served as the Chair of the Commission, she believed that she had served without fear or favour.