The opposition Democratic Alliance has made vociferous complaints that too much power seems to be getting put into the hands of those people that are very close to the sitting president, Jacob Zuma. An MP from the Hellen Zille-led Cape Town-based opposition party was speaking amid speculative reports that another Zuma confidante, Vuma Mashinini was in line to be appointed the next commisioner of the Independent Electoral Commision (IEC), the body that runs South African elections.
If he succeeds in being appointed to the IEC, Mashinini will replace Pansy Tlakula, who left the Commission in a huff after revelations that she had acted in a manner that was less than professional in the acquisition of the Commission’s rental properties in Centurion. The office complex, the Riverside Office Park, was found to be owned by Abland in which Thaba Mafumadi was a shareholder. Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector, found that Mafumadi and Tlakula had a relationship which was possibly of a romantic nature. The public Protector also found that Tlakula had, in the process of acquiring the property, acted in a manner that was not fair and cost effective and had not advised her subordinates adequately. Madonsela recommended that Tlakula be removed from office but Tlakula resigned in September last year.
Now barely six months after this resignation, and after an impassioned plea from President Zuma to fill Tlakula’s position, Vuma Mashinini, who is a former adviser to Zuma on infrastructure, has been tipped to replace Tlakula. He has also been part of a twelve member panel appointed by President Zuma to look into SOE reforms. He has been, for many years, been an official of the IEC and has experience in running elections.
However, the opposition Democratic Alliance has come out of their corner fighting mad, accusing the president of appointing his close allies. DA MP Michael Cardo protested the appointment, saying that it appeared that too much power was being put into the hands of those close to Zuma. The Shadow Minister of Home Affairs for the DA, Haniff Hoosen, argued that the relationship between Vuma Glenton Mashinini ‘rises to levels of conflict of interest’. Hoosen added that the DA felt that it was critical for the IEC, a chapter nine institution charged with running the country’s elections to be run by someone who is beyond reproach and is capable of fairly and effectively running it.