Johannesburg - The Electoral Court sitting in the South Gauteng
High Court in Johannesburg should recommend that IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula
is not fit to hold office, the court heard on Tuesday.
"You need to make a recommendation that she simply
cannot continue to occupy this office," Advocate David Unterhalter, for
various political parties, said.
"The matter is urgent because the looming election
makes it necessary, where parties believe that the commission is headed by
someone who is not suitable."
Unterhalter said the court should make the recommendation
because South Africa was about to go into national elections and the chairperson
of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) had misconducted herself.
The court was hearing an application by some opposition
parties to have Tlakula resign ahead of the 7 May elections.
The parties calling for her resignation are the United
Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of
the People, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Tlakula was not in court on Tuesday.
Last week, Tlakula reportedly wrote a letter to the
Electoral Court in the hope that she would not have to go to court.
In the letter she reportedly said the IEC would not be
able to manage the elections without her.
However, on Tuesday, Unterhalter said Tlakula could never
be cleared of all the charges against her and should not occupy her position.
Judge Lotter Wepener questioned Unterhalter on the
process that would follow a recommendation that Tlakula should resign.
"If we make a recommendation, will it have any
effect on the 7th of May?" he asked.
Unterhalter responded: "The duty will rest with the
committee of the National Assembly. It is not for the court to determine
whether it can happen."
Wepener said the application was being heard on an urgent
basis but he wanted to find out if the order would be wasting time.
"Will our order have your desired effect? If not -
we are wasting time," he told Unterhalter.
However, Unterhalter said the National Assembly would
have a constitutional reasonability to find a replacement for Tlakula before
the national elections.
But Wepener said he was not even sure if the committee
could convene in time.
Unterhalter responded: "If the election comes and
goes and this person presides over that election, we have done a disservice to
South African citizens.
"The court must do what it can do to serve the
Constitution of South Africa. The ball has landed in their court and we have an
imminent election, then they as public servants, have a duty to perform."
He said the application was urgent because Tlakula had
misconducted herself and in terms of the processes Tlakula followed, the
reported allegations against her were "deeply incriminating".
The application follows a forensic investigation by the
Treasury on the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park building in
The probe found the process was neither fair,
transparent, nor cost-effective. It also found Tlakula did not give guidance or
formally inform various people what was expected of them in the process.
Tlakula has 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
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