SA’s iron women skirt each other

2013-10-31 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It required deft sidestepping and careful management of arrivals and departures, but South Africa’s two iron woman managed to maintain an icily polite truce in Parliament yesterday.

Advocates Thuli Madonsela and Pansy Tlakula are at loggerheads after Madonsela in her role as Public Protector reported that Tlakula may have acted improperly in her role as Independent Electoral Commissioner when the commission chose new headquarters. Tlakula then tore into the Public Prosecutor’s report, pointing out many legal and procedural mistakes. The dispute between the two advocates is currently being investigated by an ad hoc-committee in Parliament.

Yesterday morning the two women carefully skirted each other during a two-hour discussion, which was called by the speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu and his deputy Nomaindia Mfeketo for the heads of institutions that “support democracy” to meet in terms of Article 9 of the Constitution.

They avoided having to greet each other with Tlakula arriving on time and Madonsela arriving only during Sisulu’s opening remarks.

Madonsela then seated herself as far as possible from Tlakula in the back corner of the chamber of delegates.

Parliament came in for a lashing from the leaders of the institutions during the discussion. They were irritated by the delays in applying the strongly-worded recommendations made by the late Kader Asmal’s report on the Article 9 institutions.

After the discussion it was time for a finger lunch, where Tlakula and Madonsela did not greet each other at all, despite at times being separated by only a gently steaming bain-marie.

When one bit into a chicken leg, the other would turn her back. When that one poured a cup of coffee, the other would look away.

Tlakula was first to take her leave, to get back to her job of overseeing arrangements for next year’s general elections. Madonsela continued long discussions with other delegates outside the chamber.

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