'Elections can go on without Tlakula'

IEC's Terry Tselane has directly contradicted Tlakula's claim that elections can't go on without her.

IEC Deputy Chairperson Terry Tselane. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chair Terry Tselane has now directly contradicted the commission's chair Pansy Tlakula over whether the elections can continue without her.

Tlakula's lawyers have told the Electoral Court the elections would be placed in jeopardy if she were to be removed from her post now.

But Tselane said it can go ahead.

On Friday, the court will hold a full inquiry into Tlakula's fitness for office after a finding by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that she behaved improperly during a headquarters leasing deal.

Yesterday, the court ruled it must now investigate whether she can preside over next week's elections.

The United Democratic Movement, African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, AgangSA and the Economic Freedom Fighters approached the court asking judges to recommend she be removed from her post.

The opposition parties said the finding of maladministration means she cannot be trusted.

In sworn legal papers, Tlakula says the IEC's running of the elections would be placed in jeopardy if she is removed now because there will be four commissioners and no way to break a deadlock.

But Tselane says that's not true.

"At the end of the day, we will be able to run the elections without a commissioner being present so it doesn't actually mean that this election is focused on one person."

He also says the law does make provision for this situation.

"In a situation where the chairperson isn't available, the deputy chairperson takes over and chairs the meeting but all other areas have to be agreed to by a commission."

This seems to point to divisions at the top of the IEC just as the election process gets underway.

Last year, Madonsela released a damning report on the IEC's procurement of its R320 million Centurion offices from property developer Abland.

Madonsela said the IEC chair failed to disclose her relationship with Thaba Mufamadi, a part-owner of Abland.

However, Tlakula has denied any wrongdoing, and maintains her ability to oversee the electoral process remains intact.