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Tlakula needs more time: lawyer

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iol news pic IEC Pansy Tlakula

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Chairperson of the IEC Pansy Tlakula File photo: Etienne Creux

Johannesburg - IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula does not have enough time to reply to an application calling for her resignation, the Electoral Court sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Tuesday.

“She will have to leave the commission to respond - it's undesirable and unpractical,” Daniel Berger SC, for Tlakula, said.

“To formulate an affidavit of this magnitude is a huge task. She doesn't have to be put through that.”

He said it would be added pressure for Tlakula to have to respond by Thursday 5pm after the court said it wanted a full inquiry into the application calling for her to resign as Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chairwoman.

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.

Berger told the court on Tuesday Tlakula “needs more time”.

“It is unfair to put her into a position to push her,” he argued.

He told the court she would still be chairwoman after the elections and suggested that the matter wait until then.

“Twenty court days would be fair because she remains chair. There are other elections.”

However, Judge Lotter Wepener told him the matter was urgent because the political parties did not have confidence that the elections would be free and fair with Tlakula as chairwoman.

“There is urgency. We have to work expeditiously... There is a misconduct that is not contested at the moment,” he said.

“The allegations are serious.”

Berger said Tlakula was not called upon to make a full submission in front of the court.

It was “easy” for opposition parties to say the credibility of the elections were at stake but it would have to be tested.

Earlier, David Unterhalter SC, for the political parties, said the Electoral Court should make the recommendation that Tlakula be removed from her position.

However, Wepener said he was not convinced that if the court had to make the recommendation that it could happen before the elections.

“I have no idea how achievable it is to have her suspended. Realistically, personally I am not convinced that it can happen,” he said.

Berger agreed: “Realistically, it can't happen before next week Wednesday.”

He said based on that Tlakula should have time to file her responding affidavit.

Unterhalter said based on the gravity of the allegations this could taint the commission and the elections.

The application follows a forensic investigation by the National 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.

The hearing continues.

Sapa


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