Tlakula free to preside over elections

After a delay in the Electoral Court case against her, the IEC chair will remain in place for now.

FILE: IEC Chairperson Pansy Tlakula. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairperson Pansy Tlakula will now be able to preside over next week's elections following the Electoral Court's decision to postpone its hearing of the case against her.

The court said it would not be able to reach a decision in her case before Wednesday and decided to stand down until 2 June.

Five political parties had asked the court to recommend that Tlakula be removed from her post because of her role in an IEC headquarters leasing deal.

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

Madonsela found Tlakula guilty of maladministration and misconduct over the acquisition, noting that she failed to disclose her relationship with Thaba Mufamadi, a part-owner of the company.

In documents submitted in their application at the Electoral Court, the parties said Mufamadi was also on the list of ANC candidates submitted to the IEC this year.

The parties have maintained that Tlakula was guilty of misconduct and should have removed herself from the process of deciding which company to award the lease to.

They say she played a key role in the deal and that her behaviour in clinging to her position at this stage shows she can't make these decisions in a dispassionate manner.

Throughout this time, Tlakula has vehemently denied any wrongdoing or having benefitted personally from the deal in any way.

Yesterday, speaking for the Electoral Court, Judge Lötter Wepener explained the decision to postpone.

"We are of the view that we will not be able to come to a conclusion in this matter by close of business on Tuesday, 6 May 2014. Therefore, the investigation should be postponed."

The delay means it's now possible for an investigation to find after the elections that these polls were presided over by someone who is not of the utmost integrity.