Less than exemplary

2014-04-10 00:00

AS a former Human Rights Commissioner who shared the privilege of being a member of the first batch of Human Rights commissioners with Pansy Tlakula, I am not at all surprised at the allegations made against her as head of the Independent Electoral Commission.

A cocky, overly sensitive, intelligent and manipulative person, she too has been bitten by the bug of entitlement. I knew it would just be a matter of time, when she would follow the way of all flesh. Now firmly in the lap of the ANC, when in fact her political genesis started elsewhere, in her state of weakness, she is putty in the hands of the ruling party to manipulate as they wish.

Bantu Holomisa’s demands that she should be fired will fall on deaf ears because she is exactly the type of useful idiot the ANC will court to seduce into the ways of the ANC arriviste.

Her bette noire, the equally cocky Raenette Taljaard, has allegedly also fallen into the trap of double dipping, according to a recent report in the Beeld. I am not surprised, as this is common practice in the commissions as oversight is weak and accountability slack.

Such is the nature of the Chapter Nine institutions. Structured across Parliament and government, they are fatally flawed, creating many loopholes for corruption to occur. These structural flaws in the operations and management of their mandates generate unnecessary tensions and rivalries between commissioners and the secretariat.

Hence it is difficult to pull a commission together as their operations are often at loggerheads with each other.

Their arbitrary budgets also make a mockery of their roles as accountability structures.

Back to Tlakula and Taljaard — both have histories of political entitlement and are victims of limitless hubris, while they also happen to be our electoral commissioners.

Their task is to provide the public with the utmost confidence that our elections will be free and fair. With Tlakula at the head, I have no such confidence. Taljaard exacerbates my mistrust.

The impending strike from IEC staff indicates how disgusted they are with their less than exemplary leader. They lack ethical and moral leadership to head up the IEC.

A microscopic scrutiny into the goings on of the commissions is long overdue. Some are governed like fiefdoms and tyrannies, when they should be promoting constitutionalism.

The Commission of Gender Equality was a case in point. The incipient rivalry between the CEO and the head of the commission was toxic and an out-of-court settlement was the better option to ensure both her survival and the commission’s.

Loaded with full-time and part-time commissioners, they absorb what little revenue we have. They deliver nothing, if the country’s reports to the UN are anything to go by.

Not one of the Chapter Nine institutions, except the public protector, has done anything to boost the human-rights trajectory in South Africa, or has come up with a strategy to turn this epidemic around.

It is high time Parliament appoints a commission of inquiry to expose the exorbitant salaries these officials earn and whether these money-guzzling institutions provide value for money.

What we need are qualified, competent and highly ethical candidates who refuse to succumb to the prevailing ethos in the country, which is “everyone is doing it, so why not us?”.

That is how the culture of impunity becomes second nature even to those occupying our august Chapter Nine institutions, now hot beds for breeding corruption.

This would be a nice job for the outgoing Trevor Manuel to investigate.

At least he will leave with a bang rather than as a “free radical”.

• Rhoda Kadalie is the executive director of social innovations centre Impumelelo

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