The call for the Chairperson of the independent Electoral Commission to resign seems to have gathered momentum showing a great measure of seriousness on the part of the opposition political parties. On Friday, the leader of the coalition of political parties that have made this call who is also the chairman of the United Democratic Party, Bantu Holomisa, said on Friday that papers had been served with the Electoral Court. This, he said had been necessitated by the fact that, by not heeding the call of the aggrieved political parties, Tlakula had shown how arrogant she was and the parties had no alternative but to go ahead with the court application.
The furore over the IEC Chair follows a forensic investigation conducted by the PriceWaterhouse Cooper, a company of independent auditors which found that the acquisition of the procurement of the Commission’s Riverside Office Park in Centurion, Pretoria was neither transparent, fair nor cost-effective. In addition, Pansy was found not to have acted in a professionally sound manner as she had not guided her subordinates on what was expected of them.
It was against this background that several opposition political parties came together a few weeks back to express their concern on what they termed the credibility of the elections. This, they argued, was based on the fact that elections that were going to be run by a chairperson who was tainted could not be credible. It was against this backdrop that the coalition of political parties decided to lobby for the stepping down of the Commission’s chair. However, not all the political parties were party to this agreement. In addition to the United Democratic Movement, there was the Economic Freedom Fighters, AgangSA, African Christian Democratic Party and the Congress of the People. The united Christian Democratic Party, together with the Azania People’s Organisation, though originally part of the initial coalition, was not listed as part of the applicants to the court order. Inkatha Freedom Party later declined having been part of the coalition.
In one of the few recorded responses to the pressure, Pansy Tlakula said the auditor’s report did not accuse her of corruption despite the fact that Thuli Madonsela found that in the acquisition of the Centurion property, she had acted in a grossly irregular manner.
The other opposition political parties, conspicuous by their silence, recently spoke out in condemnation of the call and court order urging Tlakula to step down. The chairperson of the Democratic Alliance federal executive, James Selfe said this call was grossly irresponsible given that the IEC was conducting its own investigation, adding that the political parties needed to allow this due process to run its course.
Adding its weight to the DA’s call, the Freedom Front Plus said it was unwise to call for the resignation of the chairperson of the electoral Commission when it is literally only a few days before elections. The ruling party, ANC, said that the call for the stepping down of Tlakula was irresponsible and was being made by people bent on delegitimizing the upcoming elections.