Tlakula ruling welcomed


Johannesburg - Opposition parties on Friday welcomed the Constitutional Court ruling dismissing IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula's application for leave to appeal against an Electoral Court ruling against her.

"This decision vindicates the findings of the Public Protector [Thuli Madonsela] and two other credible institutions that pronounced on the matter," UDM president Bantu Holomisa said in a statement.

"We take our hats off to the whistle-blowers who helped root out this maladministration and abuse of public monies."

Holomisa is also chairperson of a multi-party forum, consisting of the United Democratic Front (UDM), African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, AgangSA and the Economic Freedom Fighters, that called for Tlakula to resign.

Before the 7 May elections, the parties approached the Electoral Court seeking Tlakula's resignation.

This followed a finding by Madonsela, and a subsequent forensic investigation by the National Treasury, over the procurement of the Electoral Commission of SA's (IEC) Riverside Office Park building in Centurion. Tlakula was chief electoral officer at the time.

Madonsela found Tlakula had a relationship, possibly of a romantic nature, with then chairperson of Parliament's finance portfolio committee Thaba Mufamadi.

Mufamadi was a shareholder in Abland, which was awarded the R320m contract to lease the building.

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

On 18 June, Electoral Court Judge Lotter Wepener found Tlakula's misconduct warranted her removal from office.

On 1 July, President Jacob Zuma granted Tlakula's request for special leave of absence until a final decision was made on her fitness to hold office.

In her Constitutional Court papers, Tlakula claimed the Electoral Court erred in its finding and that its procedures were unfair.

She denied being guilty of misconduct, and argued the Electoral Commission Act did not govern the conduct of a commissioner prior to him or her assuming office.

She also believed that her relationship with Mufamadi did not constitute a conflict of interest.

The EFF said Tlakula should not have presided over the general elections.

"Preceding over our elections means she risked our democracy, the confidence of the public and reputation of South Africa in the community of world countries," it said.

"But worse is that she is a dishonourable lawyer."