Staffers threaten strike if IEC head Tlakula not removed – reports

Employees of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) have threatened to strike unless chair Pansy Tlakula is removed before the election on May 7, City Press reported on Sunday.

The potential strike risks disrupting the election, and intensifies pressure on Tlakula, who has been implicated in a Pricewaterhouse Coopers forensic audit as well as public protector Thuli Madonsela's report into the leasing of the IEC's R320-million head office in Centurion, Pretoria.

This week Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele told Tlakula to resign.

Malema called on Tlakula to resign "to avoid the possibility civil war". He also said opposition parties would initiate legal proceedings against the IEC should Tlakula not resign. 

The ANC came out in Tlakula's defence, saying her issues don't impact the credibility of the elections.

Organisers of the unprecedented strike said it was supported by more than 90% of IEC employees who have mandated the national negotiating forum – a worker's structure led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union – to enter into talks with IEC commissioners, the paper said.

Procurement process not fair
A forensic investigation by auditors PwC on behalf of the treasury on the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park building in Centurion, Pretoria, was released last month.

It indicated that the procurement process was not fair, transparent or cost-effective. It found Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people what was expected of them in the process.

After a multiparty forum meeting with the IEC in Pretoria last week, Malema said accusations maladministration and corruption at the IEC could not happen during at election.

"It is in the interest of the unity of this country, to avoid the possibility of civil war and disputed election results. She has seven days to step down or appropriate action will be announced regarding what is going to follow."

The forum of opposition parties met to discuss public protector Thuli 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.

In agreement
"All the political parties present, with the exception of the Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus [FF Plus], agreed that advocate Tlakula must resign immediately," Holomisa said.

"Should she refuse to resign, the parties who are in agreement will pursue legal action."

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 Economic Freedom Fighters, FF Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, United Christian Democratic Party and the UDM.

Ramphele said the electoral body should be headed by a person "without a whiff of a cloud over her head".

"If the electoral process is conducted under a cloud hanging over the head of the chair [Tlakula], we cannot say citizens have the power to hold public officials accountable," she said.

"It is ultimately disrespectful of South African citizens to have a chair implicated in issues raised by both the public protector and the forensic audit presiding over an election." – Sapa

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