Pansy Tlakula erred, but it doesn’t warrant her removal

2014-06-04 15:01

Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Pansy Tlakula believes that the “mistake” she made in the awarding of a R320 million lease to a business partner cannot be used as grounds for her removal, her lawyers told the Electoral Court today.

Tlakula’s lawyer Daniel Berger also told the court that rules governing the conduct of commissioners in the IEC do not apply to Tlakula as the “misconduct” she allegedly committed occurred while she was chief electoral officer of the commission, not a commissioner.

Berger argued that the application by five opposition parties to have Tlakula removed would only have applied if she had committed the alleged misconduct while she was a commissioner.

He told the court Tlakula had proved herself fit to hold office and that her “impartiality, integrity and independence” were not being questioned as shown in her “smooth” management of the general elections last month.

Berger repeatedly argued that Tlakula had committed a mistake by not ensuring that she instituted an open tender process rather than a closed one.

This mistake, said Berger, was normal. Other government officials commit them from time to time and it is deemed “irregular expenditure” by the Auditor-General.

Berger argued that Tlakula should not face any calls for her removal because she had declared the “irregular expenditure” to the Auditor-General.

He also said there was evidence to show that the IEC never embarked on an open tender process for lease agreements before and that Tlakula had enquired why this was the case before embarking in a new search for office accommodation.

“This was not the first time the tender prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act were not observed. The IEC has 264 offices around the country and not once, in any of those agreements, were tender prescripts observed, therefore this is not negligence on her part,” said Berger.

Judge Lotter Wepener agreed with Berger’s submission that if the Electoral Court found Tlakula had committed misconduct, but was of the view that this did not warrant her removal from office, the court should not make any recommendations for her removal to the National Assembly.

The political parties have asked the Electoral Court to investigate Tlakula and recommend to Parliament that she be removed.

“But if the court is satisfied that this misconduct is not sufficient grounds for her to be removed, the court should not make any recommendation to the National Assembly,” said Berger – and Wepener agreed.

Two separate probes by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and the Treasury have found that Tlakula had irregularly awarded the R320 million lease contract to a company in which she and ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi had a stake.

Tlakula contends that at the time of the signing of the lease she had no obligation to disclose any “conflict of interest” of her business “association” with Mufamadi. This was because she had no financial stake in Lehotsa Holdings – a company in which she and Mufamadi were co-directors – which owns 20% of Abland, the company that was awarded the controversial R320 million lease deal.

The hearing continues.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.