18 June 2014

South Africa: Court Recommends Election Commission Chair's Removal

Photo: South African Government
IEC Chief Electoral Officer Advocate Pansy Tlakula briefs the media (file photo).

Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chairwoman Pansy Tlakula should be removed from her position due to misconduct, the Electoral Court ruled on Wednesday.

Judge Lotter Wepener recommended her removal in his written judgment, but this was a decision for the relevant committee of the National Assembly.

"In my view, the respondent compromised the independence and integrity of the commission to such an extent that her actions complained of constitute misconduct within the meaning of the Electoral Commission Act."

The court concluded that Tlakula had committed misconduct to an extent warranting her removal from office. The Electoral Court needed to reach an opinion on her conduct, upon which to base its recommendation, to be passed on to Parliament.

This stemmed from an application by several opposition parties seeking Tlakula's resignation as chairwoman of the IEC before the May 7 elections.

The United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters wanted Tlakula's resignation, arguing that her integrity had been compromised.

This followed a report by the public protector and a subsequent forensic investigation by the National Treasury into the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park headquarters building in Centurion.

Madonsela found, among other things, Tlakula had a relationship --possibly of a romantic nature -- with the then chairman of Parliament's finance portfolio committee Thaba Mufamadi.

He was a shareholder in Abland, which owns the IEC's current premises.

The Treasury probe found the process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost-effective. It also found Tlakula neither gave guidance nor formally informed various people what was expected of them in the process.

The court proceedings were postponed until after the general elections as the court did not have enough time to make a recommendation.

In his judgment on Wednesday, Wepener found that Tlakula's conduct risked damaging public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the IEC.

"It is conduct of such a nature, that had it been known at the time of the respondent's appointment as commissioner, [it] would in all probability have played a role in the decision whether or not to appoint her," Wepener found.

The political parties who brought the application were justified in their concerns that the independence of the commission had been tainted.

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InFocus

S Africa Elections Chief Should Step Down - Court

IEC Chief Electoral Officer Advocate Pansy Tlakula briefs the media (file photo).

The Electoral Court has recommended that the chair of the Electoral Commission, Pansy Tlakula be removed from her position due to misconduct after an application by opposition ... Read more »