Electoral Court rules against Tlakula

Five opposition parties launched an application to have her removed as IEC chair.

FILE: IEC Chair Pansy Tlakula confers with her legal team at the Electoral Court during a hearing into her credibility. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Electoral Court has ruled against Independent Electoral Commission ( IEC) chair Pansy Tlakula in her battle against five opposition parties who want her to be removed from office.

The_ City Press _is reporting the court has recommended she be removed from her position for misconduct relating to the commission's controversial lease deal for its new headquarters.

In a written judgment on Wednesday the court said it had found Tlakula compromised the independence and integrity of the IEC and her actions harmed the commission's values.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa was part of the court application against Tlakula.

"We welcome this decision. We feel we have been vindicated as political parties and we hope that this will serve as a lesson for those who are occupying high positions that think they are untouchable."

Agang SA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also welcomed the judgment.

EFF leader Julius Malema said the ANC had a duty to make sure Tlakula was removed.

"The ANC will have to do the right thing because they have the majority. They can't protect an individual whom the courts say isn't fit to hold the position. That would be undermining the judiciary."

Agang SA spokesperson Philip Machanick said they are hopeful the commission will learn from the saga.

"This vindicates our position and we hope in the future, the IEC will be able to move more quickly when it comes to matters like this."

The court's recommendation will now be passed on to a Parliamentary committee to decide on further steps.

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

She found Tlakula guilty of maladministration and failing to disclose her relationship with Thaba Mufamadi, a part-owner of Abland.

Tlakula's lawyers have argued it's unfair to claim she tried to manipulate a leasing tender to benefit her business partner.

Shortly before the 7 May elections, political parties launched an application at the Electoral Court to have Tlakula removed from her post.

The matter was postponed after it was found that a decision could not be made before the nation went to the polls.

Tlakula's legal team admits she flouted procedures but insists she made an honest mistake when doing so.

Senior counsel Daniel Berger says the fact Tlakula did not follow procedures on various occasions did not in any way affect her impartiality as IEC chair.

Tlakula spoke to Stephen Grootes ahead of the 7 May polls.