Tlakula’s lawyer pleads for more time

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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's lawyer asked the Electoral Court on Friday not to rush the inquiry into a bid to have her removed from office.

“This whole process from last week Tuesday has been rushed,” Daniel Berger SC, for Tlakula, told the court, sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg.

“If there is no reasonable prospect that a recommendation be made before Wednesday, then we should not rush the investigation.”

He said the court was dealing with a constitutional official and the same procedure used when considering the removal of a judge should be applied.

He said he needed more time to prepare heads of argument.

The court held an investigation into Tlakula's conduct after an application by some opposition parties to have Tlakula resign before the May 7 elections.

The parties 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 Friday.

The parties want Tlakula to resign, arguing that her integrity has been compromised. The application follows a forensic investigation by Treasury into the procurement of the Electoral Commission of SA's (IEC) 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 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 last year.

Berger told the court on Friday that because it was a rushed process and they had to compile Tlakula's affidavit, he did not have enough time to put together his arguments.

“But if the court had taken the view that a recommendation could be made before Wednesday, then I will stand up and make the best argument I can,” he said.

However, David Unterhalter SC, for the political parties, said he was able to make arguments despite only receiving the affidavit at 7pm on Thursday. He said Tlakula was “clinging to her office”.

The matter was urgent and needed clarity, he said.

Judge Lotter Wepener adjourned for the court to decide if it would be able to make recommendations before the elections on May 7.


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