Pansy Tlakula must put IEC first

2014-06-22 15:00

The ruling by the Electoral Court this week against Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chair Pansy Tlakula was as damning as damning can be.

Judge Lotter Wepener found that Tlakula “compromised the independence and integrity of the commission” and recommended that she be booted from her post.

Wepener said Tlakula “should be held responsible for the irregular and unlawful process” of leasing the IEC’s new offices in Centurion. He slammed her refusal to be held accountable for her role in the R350?million deal, which he said was in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.

“She should be held responsible for the irregular and unlawful process, which was initiated by her. Her failure to accept responsibility is deserving of censure...” Wepener said.

This is the third adverse finding against Tlakula, who was earlier nailed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as well as by an investigation conducted by the Treasury.

A group of opposition parties led by United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa had taken the matter to the Electoral Court in a bid to force her to step down before the May 7 general elections.

In spite of this, Tlakula insists she is going nowhere and intends asking the Constitutional Court to overturn the decision. She has asked President Jacob Zuma to grant her a leave of absence while she tries to clear her name.

These detailed and damning findings against Tlakula have been a great source of disappointment for South Africans because she has always been regarded as one of the nation’s most upstanding leaders and the organisation she heads has been seen as a model institution.

While we understand Tlakula has every right to safeguard her reputation, we believe she should put the interests of the IEC and South Africa before her own.

The IEC gained its impeccable reputation because it was led by men and women of integrity. South Africans have unquestioningly trusted its work because they knew it was impossible for any shenanigans to creep in.

It must be kept that way. For that to happen, Tlakula needs to behave like the leader of integrity we have always known her to be. She must fall on her sword.

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