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Zuma to decide on Tlakula's leave

The IEC head has requested leave while she appeals the Electoral Court's ruling.

IEC Chair Pansy Tlakula. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma must decide whether to grant Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chair Pansy Tlakula special leave after last week's ruling by the Electoral Court recommending she be removed from her post.

The presidency has confirmed Tlakula has asked for some time off while she appeals the ruling in the Constitutional Court.

The Electoral Court found Tlakula's role in the R320 million lease for the IEC's new headquarters in Centurion in 2009 undermined the integrity of the commission.

This was due to her conflicting relationship with a man who owns shares in the company that was eventually awarded the contract.

Justice Lotter Wepener was scathing in his findings against the advocate describing Tlakula's assertion that she made an honest mistake as an afterthought.

He said her behaviour impaired public confidence in the impartiality of the IEC.

The court recommended that the National Assembly remove Tlakula after she made arguments disputing similar findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and an auditing firm.

Despite the court's finding, the advocate is determined to push ahead with an appeal.

Acting spokesperson for the president Ronnie Mamoepa says very little in the official statement, except to confirm that the president has confirmed Tlakula's request.

"The president is considering the request and the outcome thereof will be relayed in due course to advocate Tlakula."

If Zuma does grant Tlakula's request, it would seem the IEC would still be able to function after the other commissioners said previously they would have been able to run last month's elections without Tlakula.

But if Zuma refuses, that may lead to more instability in the organisation amid claims there is an internal dispute over whether the IEC should be paying for Tlakula's legal fees.

Last year, 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.

Shortly before the 7 May elections, five 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.

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