‘Stop this culture of impunity’ – Ramphele on Zuma, Tlakula

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Pansy Tlakula does not think she has to account for any wrongdoing, Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele said on Tuesday.

"We need to stop this culture of impunity," she told the South African Press Association.

"People in key institutions, including our president, feel they don't need to account."

Agang SA is part of a group of opposition parties calling on Tlakula to resign.

The Electoral Court, sitting in the high court in Johannesburg, was on Tuesday hearing an application by the parties to have the IEC chairperson resign.

This followed a forensic investigation by the treasury on the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park building in Centurion, Pretoria.

The probe found the process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost-effective. It found Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people about what was expected of them in the process.

'Perception of integrity'
The treasury's report followed a recommendation by public protector Thuli Madonsela in her own report into the matter. Tlakula has maintained that she was not accused of corruption in the report.

Last week, Tlakula reportedly wrote a letter to the Electoral Court in the hope that she would not have to go to court on Tuesday, a week before the May 7 elections. In the letter, she reportedly said the IEC would not be able to manage the elections without her.

Ramphele on Tuesday said the country had to be careful of "personalising" an institution such as the IEC.

She said opposition parties held a meeting with the IEC's remaining commissioners earlier this month.

"They said the IEC is an institution and not [only] one person makes it work. They want to see the IEC operating without this cloud over its head," Ramphele said.

She was confident the court would make the right decision.

"The legal arguments are there, we don't need to prove anything. It's the perception of integrity which matters."

'Culture of impunity'
Ramphele said it was this culture of impunity, which ensured President Jacob Zuma did not have to be accountable for costly security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

On Monday, the parliamentary ad hoc committee, which was set to consider Zuma's submissions on Madonsela's report on Nkandla was effectively dissolved. The matter would be referred to the fifth Parliament after the elections.

Ramphele on Tuesday accused the ANC-led government of deliberately stalling the ad hoc committee.

"[They] deliberately made sure there wasn't time to look at this. The ANC has protected corrupt officials," she said.

Ramphele believed South Africans were ready to vote in a new government.

'The power to vote'
"South African citizens must take back the power to vote for a government like we had in 1994. When we came away from those long queues a proud people," she said.

"This pride has gone out the window."

Ramphele bemoaned the exclusion of other political parties and contributors to the struggle at the official Freedom Day celebration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"The ANC has captured the state. They don't consider other parties. I was part of that struggle in the Black Consciousness Movement."

She said the ANC came out of exile and commandeered the fight against apartheid as its own. However, former president Nelson Mandela had repeatedly said it was not the effort of one party, it was a collective.

Ramphele said the ANC liked to see itself as the only freedom fighting entity and used this to gain votes.

People needed to be educated on what democracy was, something she said she had to do on the campaign trail.

The Agang SA leader said she would spend the last week before the elections moving around the country campaigning; from Cape Town to Limpopo. – Sapa

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