3 September 2014

South Africa: Life After Tlakula - Who's Next for the IEC?

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

Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman Advocate Pansy Tlakula resigned on Tuesday evening. It had been a long time coming. After bitter battles with United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, any continuation of the fight could have pitted the ANC and the IEC against everyone else.

Thankfully, that has been averted. But stand by for an another big fight: now we have to find a successor. Someone who is not seen as political, but who can manage the political beasts of our particular jungle. There are not many standout candidates, but there are plenty of people who might want the job.

Being the chairman of the IEC is slightly different to being the chairman of other quasi-government organisations. Firstly, the stakes are much higher. You become the symbol of our elections. While it might be fun to be the person on the podium announcing results and generally getting a pretty large share of the spotlight twice every five years, you would not want to be the face of a disastrous election. You also need to have a peculiar mix of confidence and humility. You have to have the ability to stand between Gwede Mantashe, Helen Zille and Julius Malema...

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