Pansy Tlakula to ask Jacob Zuma for leave of absence

2014-06-19 16:10

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IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula plans to ask President Jacob Zuma for a leave of absence after the Electoral Court’s recommendation that she be removed from office, her lawyer said.

“Advocate Tlakula has taken the decision to institute an appeal to the Constitutional Court to have all these issues finally determined,” Leslie Mkhabela said today.

“Meanwhile, she will approach the president to seek his permission to take leave of absence from office while the appeal process is under way.”

He said Tlakula had considered the Electoral Court’s judgment that was handed down yesterday.

“She is obviously disappointed with the outcome,” Mkhabela said.

He added that the judgment contained several critical errors of fact.

“It also raises important constitutional issues regarding the removal of commissioners from office.”

In a written judgment yesterday, Judge Lotter Wepener recommended that Tlakula be removed from her post. He concluded that Tlakula’s misconduct warranted her removal from office.

The relevant committee of the National Assembly would consider the court’s recommendation and decide on further steps.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last year recommended that Parliament consider action against Tlakula for her “grossly irregular” role in the procurement of the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) Riverside Office Park building in Centurion.

Among other things, Madonsela found that Tlakula had a relationship – possibly of a romantic nature – with the then chairperson of Parliament’s finance portfolio committee Thaba Mufamadi.

Mufamadi was a shareholder in Abland, which owns the building and was awarded the R320 million contract to lease it.

The Electoral Court found Tlakula had compromised the IEC and her actions could have detracted from public confidence in the body.

“In my view, the respondent compromised the independence and integrity of the commission to such an extent that her actions complained of constitute misconduct within the meaning of the Electoral Commission Act,” Wepener said in his written ruling.

The IEC said in a statement today it noted the Electoral Court's judgment. It said the matter was in Parliament's hands and would await the outcome of the parliamentary process.

According to the Electoral Commission Act, a commissioner can only be removed from office by the president on grounds of misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence.

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