Resign or face legal action, opposition parties warn Pansy Tlakula

2014-04-01 16:11

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Opposition political parties will take the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to court to get its chairperson Pansy Tlakula suspended unless she steps down willingly within the next seven days.

This was the decision made by eight of the 10 political parties that met in Pretoria today to discuss their concerns surrounding Tlakula’s continued reign at the helm of the electoral body, despite two damning reports about the IEC’s controversial lease deal.

The meeting, which was attended by Tlakula and her deputy Terry Tselane and IEC commissioner Raenette Taljaard, had to end when Tselane and Taljaard asked Tlakula to leave the meeting just before the discussion on her began.

Parties that attended the meeting included the DA, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Freedom Front Plus, the Inkatha Freedom Party, Cope, Agang SA, Azapo, the United Christian Democratic Party and the United Democratic Movement.

They said the findings against Tlakula by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and a forensic investigation by the Treasury, both of which found that Tlakula was guilty of maladministration in the IEC’s R320 million lease scandal, should have caused her to be dismissed or suspended to save the integrity of the elections.

Read: IEC lease: Pansy Tlakula, 2 others should be held responsible, PwC probe finds

Madonsela also found that Tlakula failed to disclose to her team at the IEC that she had a business relationship with Parliament’s finance portfolio committee chairperson Thaba Mufamadi as co-directors of Lehotsa Investments, which owns 20% of Abland.

Madonsela found that the IEC paid more than R6 million in rental for its old premises while it entered into a new lease agreement for the new building with Abland.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, EFF leader Julius Malema and Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele voiced their unhappiness over the handling of the lease debacle and called for the IEC to do the right thing and suspend Tlakula.

“Elections are about integrity and the IEC has a great reputation to uphold and we believe that it is of absolute importance that there’s more than just talk on this matter. We owe it to the people of South Africa to ensure that the reputation of the IEC is not tarnished. Elections are about holding public representatives to account and we believe that even though we’ve never had elections disputed, this [lease scandal] may distract the elections if questions are asked about their integrity and a cloud hangs over the IEC if nothing is done,” said Ramphele.

Malema said: “The IEC took exception to the talk that there would be disruptions because they believe that the IEC is a well-oiled machine. But we are worried about the credibility of the IEC because you can’t separate issues of maladministration and the upcoming elections.

“To avoid a civil war and disputed elections results, she has seven days to step down. What if somebody was to dispute the outcome of the election? That would be a problem because that would be a third allegation that against the IEC and people would believe it, that person would easily be believed.”

The parties have also demanded that the IEC publish the names of all companies that have been contracted to print and transport ballot papers between the voting stations and IEC centres and companies that will capture votes, distribute and allocate ballot papers to voting station.

“The IEC has invited this [legal threat] on themselves, because we want to know who are the owners of these parties. Are they connected to political parties or the ruling party? The IEC has proved that it has the potential to sleep with politicians,” said Malema.

“People know Chancellor House as an ANC company, but we know many others and we will tell you how these companies are linked to the ANC. We will expose how those companies are related to the ruling party”

The IEC has promised to furnish all details related to any company that has been given contracts related to the elections.

Cope MP Dennis Bloem said the demand for Tlakula’s removal was not “personal” but came about after the concerns raised in high-profile investigations by Madonsela and the Treasury.

“Pansy was present at the meeting when we tackled issues outside of the lease, but her colleagues said that she should leave when we discussed the lease matter in line with the finding that she should not be present when such issues are discussed by the IEC,” said Holomisa.

The parties said they would request meetings with FF+ leader Pieter Mulder and DA leader Helen Zille, whose parties did not agree with the demand that Tlakula be removed, so that they could all agree.

Malema said the representatives of DA and FF+ at the meeting did not have the mandate to make a decision that Tlakula be removed.

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