Step down – IEC to Pansy Tlakula

2013-10-06 10:00

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Commissioners at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) want chairperson Pansy Tlakula and others mentioned in the damning Public Protector’s report to be suspended.

Tlakula is at the centre of the report in which she was found to have played a “grossly irregular” role in a R320 million lease deal for the IEC’s head office.

Now some commissioners say they’re worried that the ANC is trying to protect Tlakula and save her job.

The ANC recently wrote to the IEC requesting a meeting, which some commissioners perceive as a way of putting pressure on them.

And sources close to the issue say commissioners have questioned the exact role to be played by an ad hoc parliamentary committee – they are worried that it will conduct its own ­investigation.

Insiders say the commissioners feel the matter should have been referred to the Electoral Court before being considered by any committee.

In her report, Madonsela ­recommended that the Speaker of Parliament, in consultation with the IEC, consider action against Tlakula.

This was why a multiparty ad hoc committee was set up.

But commissioners are puzzled. “The Electoral Commission Act is very clear on issues of misconduct relating to commissioners and that such must be referred to the Electoral Court before any committee,” said an IEC source.

“There are a few politicians in Parliament and outside Parliament who want to save their comrade. What they do not realise is that this (the Tlakula alleged misconduct) is damaging the image of the institution.”

The Electoral Commission Act decrees that a commissioner may only be removed by the president on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence after “a finding to that ­effect by a committee of the ­National Assembly upon the ­recommendation of the Electoral Court”.

This also applies to suspending a commissioner, but only after the committee’s proceedings have begun.

A letter seen by City Press from the ad hoc committee and dated September 26 asked for representations and oral ­evidence from all the former commissioners.

“It is not clear why they would ask us for statements or oral evidence when all the commissioners have already made their submissions to the Public Protector. Is this another investigation? This must go to the Electoral Court,” said another IEC source.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe denied claims that the party was attempting to protect Tlakula.

“We wrote that letter and one of the commissioners leaked it to the media. Then we started getting media enquiries about it. It became clear to us that it defeats the purpose of our meeting with the IEC. We were not going there to discuss the case of Pansy Tlakula. We were going to discuss the importance of the institution and its reputation,” Mantashe said.

“We were concerned because the commission has earned a good reputation because of its good work. Once you politicise image and reputation issues, it defeats the purpose.”

Tlakula confirmed that the meeting was cancelled, but referred all questions to the ANC.

“It was the ANC that requested that meeting and it was the ANC that cancelled it. It was not my meeting. It was the ANC’s meeting. Call them and ask them why they cancelled it.”

She declined to respond to allegations that the ANC was trying to protect her.

Mandonsela recommended that the IEC should conduct a ­forensic audit into the lease deal and act against members of the executive committee who participated in it – current boss ­Simon Moepya; his deputy, Norman du Plessis; and Stephen Langtry, a manager in Moepya’s office.

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said the commission was consulting a legal firm on “appropriate steps to be taken on all ­matters the Public Protector indicated the commission should consider acting on”.

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