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Troubled IEC declares state of readiness

The announcement comes amidst a growing scandal at the commission over its head Pansy Tlakula.

IEC Chairperson Pansy Tlakula and President Jacob Zuma inspect the national election results centre at its opening in Pretoria this afternoon. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Wednesday officially declared a state of readiness ahead of next week's elections.

This despite a scandal surrounding IEC Chairperson Pansy Tlakula.

She opened the IEC centre in Pretoria on Wednesday where results will be updated and announced after South Africans go to the polls on 7 May.

Tlakula proudly declared the state of readiness in front of President Jacob Zuma and Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it now gives me pleasure to declare the results operations centre for the 2014 national and provincial elections officially open," she said, greeted by a round of applause.

Zuma and Ramokgopa were also taken on a tour through the centre by officials.

For now, the building remains relatively quiet.

In the next week, it will become the focus of the nation as votes are tallied and results posted on the electronic boards that dominate the space.

Screens have been lit up with the logos of all the 29 political parties that are contesting the polls.

The results are expected to be finalised over the weekend of 10 May.

At the same time, it now appears Chief Electoral Officer Mosotho Moepya is being dragged into the dispute over whether Tlakula should stay on as IEC chair.

On Friday, the Electoral Court will conduct an inquiry into whether Tlakula is fit for office after being involved in a headquarters leasing scandal.

She maintains her innocence and insists she remains capable of overseeing the polls.

IEC Deputy Chairperson Terry Tselane this morning said Moepya unilaterally made a decision for the body to fund Tlakula's legal costs.

Tselane says any decision for the IEC to pay Tlakula's legal fees had to involve the commissioners themselves, but the issue never came before them.

Moepya could end up having to pay the fees out of his own pocket.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says this is an indication of the damage this entire issue is doing to the IEC.

"I think she should not wait for the court to actually pronounce on that. This is the time for her to step aside."

The scandal also appears to reveal that the commission itself may be divided over whether Tlakula should stay or go.

Meanwhile, Tselane says the IEC can run the elections without Tlakula at the helm.

POLICE READY

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says officers are ready for any attempts by communities to disrupt the general elections.

He visited the Rustenburg in the North West to assess hot spot areas.

On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma avoided certain areas, including Marikana, to avoid "heightening tensions" in the area.

The minister's acting spokesperson David Barritt says the police will not tolerate any violence.

"The line that I heard the minister say today was people who think there are no-go areas are day dreaming. I think the minister is quietly confident that everything is going to be alright on election day."