Pansy Tlakula’s resignation was ‘in the interests of democracy’

2014-09-03 08:29

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Opposition parties have welcomed the resignation of Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Pansy Tlakula and have said her departure was in the interests of democracy.

“The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomes the resignation of the IEC chairperson, following her involvement in maladministration,” spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said yesterday.

“Tlakula was a threat to democracy because she could be influenced by politicians.”

Ndlozi said her resignation saved Parliament the trouble of having to remove her to restore public trust and integrity to the IEC.

Tlakula announced yesterday that she had submitted her letter of resignation to President Jacob Zuma.

“I leave the IEC with a heavy heart and wish to thank the president, the National Assembly and the people of South Africa for affording me the opportunity to serve in one of the most important institutions promoting democracy.”

Tlakula said she believed that in the 13 years she spent at the helm of the organisation she served without fear or favour, and contributed to building an institution that delivered election results that were accepted by all political parties.

“I wish to thank all political parties for the support they gave me throughout the years,” she said.

Tlakula came under attack from political parties in the lead up to the elections with some calling for her resignation.

She was taken to court by the United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The parties argued that her integrity had been compromised. The application followed a forensic investigation by the treasury into the procurement of the IEC’s Riverside Office Park building in Centurion, Pretoria.

The probe found the process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost-effective. It found that Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people what was expected of them in the process.

Tlakula had maintained she was not accused of corruption in the report. The treasury’s report followed a recommendation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her own report into the matter, released in August last year.

Tlakula said the process of trying to clear her name had been long drawn out and for the sake of the institution, she decided to abandon this process and resign.

The presidency confirmed receipt of the letter and said Zuma would consider it.

The African National Congress thanked Tlakula for her contributions towards building a united country.

Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said Tlakula had served the people of South Africa with distinction and dedication over her tenure.

“As a result of the hard work by advocate Tlakula and her team, the IEC has consistently delivered credible, free and fair elections. Their sterling work has been recognised as such not only in South Africa but beyond our country’s borders and the world,” he said.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mike Moriarty said her resignation was probably good news.

“Pansy Tlakula has done the right thing. Clearly she’s exhausted all the avenues that were available to her in the wake of the public protector’s report.”

He says the right person is now needed to take over.

The IEC said Tlakula’s resignation signalled the end of a “particularly challenging and tumultuous period”.

“Her resignation opens the way for the commission to begin closing a particularly challenging and tumultuous period in its history and to move forward as an institution.”

The commission said it hoped history would show Tlakula had “made a significant contribution to deepening electoral democracy both here and outside of South Africa during her long career at the commission”.

It expressed confidence that it had the “capability, experience and leadership within the IEC to continue to deliver free, fair and credible elections”.

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