IEC commissioners to face criminal charges for dodgy lease

2014-02-09 10:06

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An independent forensic investigation into a controversial lease for a new Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) building has recommended that criminal charges be laid against those involved in the R320?million deal.

City Press has learnt from three independent sources, two of whom have seen the report, that the PwC investigation ­criticised the way in which IEC commissioners, including chairperson Pansy Tlakula, conducted themselves in securing the lease deal.

The IEC commissioned PwC to investigate the contract for the lease of the commission’s head offices in Riverside Office Park in Centurion, outside Pretoria.

Although the PwC report recommends that criminal charges be laid, City Press understands that the report does not specify who should face these charges.

The IEC’s commissioners instituted the probe after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recommended in a report that ­Parliament should consider taking action against Tlakula for her “grossly irregular” role in the lease deal.

City Press understands that the report was only recently released to the IEC commissioners, and they must now decide what steps to take.

A source close to the developments in the IEC said the PwC report recommends that commissioners refer the matter to police for investigation.

“The PwC report will hurt the IEC and I don’t think we will see it before the elections. Only the IEC has it at the moment,” said the source.

Another source said he had read the report and had found it to be “more critical of the manner in which the IEC ­conducted itself on that contract”.

DA MP James Selfe said he had heard rumours about the findings of the PwC report, but he declined to comment.

Selfe said he also wanted to see the report, which he understood to have only been released to the commissioners.

“All that I know is that it has been handed over to the commissioners and they are studying it. I haven’t seen it myself and I am not aware that anybody from Parliament has it.

“Obviously I would be interested in seeing it,” said Selfe, who sat on the ad hoc committee that received Madonsela’s findings. This committee refused to take action against Tlakula as recommended by Madonsela because the law stipulated that only the Electoral Court should scrutinise the matter.

“The central point at the time was that it is not the ­responsibility of Parliament to deal with it. If there were any irregularities, there is a procedure laid down in the Electoral Act that involves the Electoral Court, not Parliament, and the Constitution is very clear about this,” said Selfe.

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

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 – they are co-directors of Lehotsa Investments, which owns 20% of Abland.

Tlakula told City Press that she had not seen the report. She said this was because Madonsela barred her from being involved in any forensic probe into the lease by the IEC.

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