Tlakula cannot old office, court hearsComment on this story
Johannesburg - The Electoral Court sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg should recommend that IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula is not fit to hold office, the court heard on Tuesday.
“You need to make a recommendation that she simply cannot continue to occupy this office,” David Unterhalter SC, for various political parties, said.
“The matter is urgent because the looming election makes it necessary, where parties believe that the commission is headed by someone who is not suitable.”
Unterhalter said the court should make the recommendation because South Africa was about to go into national elections and the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) had misconducted herself.
The court was hearing an application by some opposition parties to have Tlakula resign ahead of the May 7 elections.
The parties calling for her resignation are the United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Tlakula was not in court on Tuesday.
Last week, Tlakula reportedly wrote a letter to the Electoral Court in the hope that she would not have to go to court.
In the letter she reportedly said the IEC would not be able to manage the elections without her.
However, on Tuesday, Unterhalter said Tlakula could never be cleared of all the charges against her and should not occupy her position.
Judge Lotter Wepener questioned Unterhalter on the process that would follow a recommendation that Tlakula should resign.
“If we make a recommendation, will it have any effect on the 7th of May?” he asked.
Unterhalter responded: “The duty will rest with the committee of the National Assembly. It is not for the court to determine whether it can happen.”
Wepener said the application was being heard on an urgent basis but he wanted to find out if the order would be wasting time.
“Will our order have your desired effect? If not - we are wasting time,” he told Unterhalter.
However, Unterhalter said the National Assembly would have a constitutional reasonability to find a replacement for Tlakula before the national elections.
But Wepener said he was not even sure if the committee could convene in time.
Unterhalter responded: “If the election comes and goes and this person presides over that election, we have done a disservice to South African citizens.
“The court must do what it can do to serve the Constitution of South Africa. The ball has landed in their court and we have an imminent election, then they as public servants, have a duty to perform.”
He said the application was urgent because Tlakula had misconducted herself and in terms of the processes Tlakula followed, the reported allegations against her were “deeply incriminating”.
The application follows 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 also found Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people what was expected of them in the process.
Tlakula has maintained she was not accused of corruption in the report.
The Treasury's report followed a recommendation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her own report into the matter, released in August 2013.
Proceedings continue. - Sapa