ANC, DA lock horns over Zuma’s IEC appointment

2015-04-24 09:52

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Vuma Glenton Mashinini will take up his position as a commissioner at the Independent Electoral Commission on May 1 after cracking the nod from President Jacob Zuma.

Mashinini, who has worked in the presidency for five years – including as special projects adviser since 2012 – is now also in line for the top IEC post of chairperson.

Zuma confirmed Mashinini’s appointment as a commissioner for a seven-year period yesterday.

The decision was slammed by the Democratic Alliance, which is seeking legal action. The party described Mashinini as a “close ally” of Zuma and claimed that it was an attempt by the president “to capture a critical state institution”.

The ANC, on the other hand, welcomed the appointment and said that Mashinini had the right qualifications, had proceeded through a rigorous selection process and his role in the presidency was as a public servant, not a party-political appointment.

Mashinini is a former deputy chief electoral officer who has also done consultancy work in election services in other parts of Africa.

Opposition parties rallied against his appointment in Parliament earlier this year because of his ties with Zuma, but the recommendation to Zuma went ahead following an ANC majority vote.

Responding yesterday, DA member of Parliament Haniff Hoosen said: “Mashinini’s close relationship with Zuma ... rises to the level of a conflict of interest and renders him unsuitable to hold office at this Chapter 9 institution, which needs to be independent and free from undue political influence.

“The chairpersonship of this institution must be held by someone who is beyond reproach and capable of fairly and effectively running an organisation that is critically important to our democracy.”

But ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo dismissed all criticisms as an “irresponsible” attempt to tarnish the image of the IEC.

“The criticism does not make sense; there is no substance to the issues raised. It is simply a matter of stirring up controversy where there is none.”

Mashinini was among 14 shortlisted candidates who were interviewed by a panel chaired by chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, along with deputy public protector Kevin Malunga, chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission Lawrence Mushwana and chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, Mfanozelwe Shozi.

The position became vacant after IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula quit over a botched R320-million leasing deal last September.

A process is also under way to fill another vacancy on the electoral commission after commissioner Raenette Taljaard quit in February.

The post of chairperson is selected from among the five commissioners.

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