ANC says calls for Tlakula's resignation opportunistic
The ruling party says demands by opposition parties for the IEC chair to step down are opportunistic.
The ANC in a press statement issued on Thursday by ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu in support of the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC's) chairperson, Pansy Tlakula.
The statement comes two days after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said opposition parties would initiate legal proceedings against the IEC should Tlakula not resign.
"The African National Congress has noted with concern statements attributed to various political parties calling for the resignation of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, advocate Pansy Tlakula," according to the ruling party's statement.
The legal action threat by opposition parties follows a ruling made by public protector Thuli Madonsela in August, in which she found that the process followed by Tlakula in securing a R320-millon lease for the IEC's head office in Centurion was "irregular … and violated procurement rules".
Madonsela at the time released the report after an investigation into allegations of maladministration and corruption in the procurement of the Riverside Office Park in Centurion to accommodate the head offices of the IEC.
"The allegations surrounding the acquisition of the IEC headquarters in Centurion have no bearing on the 2014 general elections and the ANC is confident that the IEC has in place the necessary procedures and systems to deal with such allegations, without the interference of any political party," the ANC said on Thursday.
'Maladministration and corruption'
Earlier in the week, Malema said after a multiparty forum meeting with the IEC in Pretoria: "You cannot separate the issues of maladministration and corruption on the [acquisition] of the property from having such acts happening during the elections."
At the time, the forum of opposition parties met to discuss Madonsela's finding on the Nkandla upgrades and controversy around Tlakula.
Forum chairperson Bantu Holomisa, who heads the United Democratic Movement (UDM), said the opposition parties resolved to push for Tlakula's resignation.
"Should she refuse to resign, the parties who are in agreement will pursue legal action," he said.
The parties said there was no discussion about boycotting the May 7 elections.
The forum consists of the African Christian Democratic Party, Agang SA, Azapo, the EFF, Freedom Front Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, United Christian Democratic Party and the UDM.
Agreeing with the opposition parties, the ANC said it "shares the sentiment held by many parties in the PLC [Party Liaison Committee] for the need to support and strengthen the work of the IEC instead of seeking to demonise its leadership and disrupt its functioning 34 days before election day.
"Any calls therefore for the resignation of the IEC chairperson, we view as opportunistic, malicious and designed to cast doubt over the credibility of the general election of 2014." – Additional reporting by Sapa
A previous version of this story stated that the ruling party was calling for Tlakula's resignation. This is an inaccurate representation and has been changed.