Public Protector’s findings won’t affect next year’s elections – IEC

2013-08-27 10:56

The findings of the Public Protector’s investigation into IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula will not affect the national and provincial elections next year, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said.

“Various election milestones have already been achieved by the electoral commission. Staff have been identified and trained, and the focus now is on the November 2013 registration weekend,” IEC vice-chairman Terry Tselane said yesterday.

He said the report by Thuli Madonsela, which found Tlakula guilty of improper conduct and maladministration, would in “no way” affect the 2014 elections.

“The electoral commission would like to give every assurance to political parties, the South African electorate and international partners that the commission remains committed to maintaining its high standards as a pre-eminent leader in electoral democracy,” said Tselane.

“The commission is confident that preparations are sufficiently advanced, to yet again, successfully manage the forthcoming elections as soon as the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, proclaims the date thereof.”

Madonsela yesterday recommended that Parliament consider taking action against Tlakula for her “grossly irregular” role in the procurement of the Riverside Office Park building in Centurion for the IEC’s headquarters.

Madonsela also found a conflict of interest involving a co-director, with whom Tlakula was accused of being romantically involved.

She recommended that the IEC review its agreement with Abland, which was awarded the contract to lease the building. Tlakula was accused of having a romantic relationship with Parliament’s finance portfolio committee chairman, Thaba Mufamadi, who owns a 20% stake in Abland by virtue of their co-directorship in Lehotsa Investments (Pty) Limited.

Allegations about their romantic involvement were not investigated as there was no “tangible” evidence, and the whistle-blower employee denied the allegation when interviewed by the Public Protector’s office.

But Madonsela found that Tlakula had failed to disclose her business relationship with Mufamadi to the bidding team, which compromised her independence and objectivity.

The investigation came after United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa alleged irregularities in the procurement of the new building, the validity of lease agreements, and various payments to Abland. In response to the findings, Tlakula said that if left unchallenged, the report could damage the credibility of the IEC.

Tlakula was also seeking legal redress.

She told SAfm and Talk Radio 702 this morning that she would not resign.

Tlakula said after the release of the report that it contained “procedural and substantive irregularities”.

“I do not accept as correct, the finding of the Public Protector that my participation in the evaluation process pertaining to the awarding of the tender ... gave rise to a conflict of interest on my part.”

The IEC said that it noted the contents of the report, and assured Madonsela of its “continued respect for her office”.

“The commission ... is fully committed to adhering to and implementing the remedial actions within the set time frames,” said Tselane.

The DA and other political parties have since called for Tlakula’s suspension.

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