Pansy Tlakula gets a reprieve

2014-05-02 17:55

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Pansy Tlakula will preside over next week’s elections after the Electoral Court postponed an inquiry into alleged misconduct to June 2.

Judge Lotter Wepener said the court needed to postpone the inquiry because it would not be able to make a decision on whether to recommend that Tlakula be axed or not before Wednesday’s polls.

Tlakula is breathing a huge sigh of relief after her legal team persistently argued the court should postpone the matter until after the elections.

It was not clear whether Tlakula would still be in her position when the inquiry began this week.

But Tlakula’s lawyer, Daniel Berger SC, would not present their arguments in defence of Tlakula until Wepener and the two assessors had come to a decision on whether the court would be able to make a decision on the matter before May 7.

A multiparty forum of five political parties – the Economic Freedom Fighters, Cope, Agang SA, the United Democratic Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party – wanted the court to recommend to Parliament that Tlakula be removed as chair because she had been guilty of “misconduct” in the R320m lease scandal for IEC accommodation.

But Berger argued that they were not prepared to present Tlakula’s side of the story because of the limited time available.

The forum had filed an urgent application, seeking an outcome before the elections.

The parties have accused Tlakula of being tainted after an investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela revealed that Tlakula had presided over the awarding of the R320m tender – to Abland, a company in which both Tlakula and ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi had a stake.

At the time, the lease was awarded to Abland, Tlakula, the then-CEO of the IEC, and Mufamadi were co-directors in Lehotsa Holdings, a company which owns 20% of Abland.

Calls for Tlakula to be removed for being in business with a senior member of the ruling party have grown, with another damning forensic probe by the National Treasury also finding Tlakula partly responsible for the questionable handling of the tender.

The IEC is also being sued for R80m by Khwela City, the company which the National Treasury found to have been unjustly disqualified from getting the tender.

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