President Zuma grants IEC boss Tlakula leave of absence

The presidency said on Tuesday that President Jacob Zuma granted Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Pansy Tlakula’s request for a special leave of absence.

“The president has granted the special leave of absence until a final decision on her fitness to hold office as chairperson of the commission is made,” the presidency said in a statement. 

Tlakula asked Zuma to put her on special leave following the Electoral Court’s recommendation that she be removed from office. 

On June 19, Tlakula’s lawyer Leslie Mkhabela said the IEC chairperson would appeal against the recommendation in the Constitutional Court. 

“In the meanwhile, she will be approaching the president of the republic to seek his permission to take leave of absence from office while the appeal process is under way,” Mkhabela said at the time. 

Several opposition parties approached the Electoral Court seeking Tlakula’s resignation before the May 7 elections. However, the matter was postponed until after the elections to allow the court time to make a recommendation. 

The United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and Economic Freedom Fighters wanted Tlakula’s resignation, arguing her integrity was compromised. This followed a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and a subsequent forensic investigation by Treasury into the procurement of the IEC’s Riverside Office Park building in Centurion. Tlakula was chief electoral officer at the time. 

Madonsela found that Tlakula had a relationship – possibly of a romantic nature – with the then chairperson of Parliament’s finance portfolio committee, Thaba Mufamadi. Mufamadi was a shareholder in Abland, which owns the building and was awarded the R320-million contract to lease it.

The Treasury probe found the procurement process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost-effective. It found Tlakula neither gave guidance nor formally informed various people what was expected of them in the process. 

In a written judgment on June 18, Judge Lotter Wepener concluded Tlakula’s misconduct warranted her removal from office. – Sapa

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