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Cape Town - Elections boss Pansy Tlakula says neither Parliament, the Electoral Court nor the president are legislated to deal with the public protector’s finding that she had an “undisclosed and unmanaged conflict of interest” in the procurement of a multimillion-rand lease.
That’s because she was the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief electoral officer, or accounting officer, during the head office procurement deal - and allegations of impropriety against a chief electoral officer are investigated by the commission itself. Tlakula became IEC chairwoman after the lease was finalised.
“There is no legislation invoking the Speaker of Parliament or the president in allegations of improper conduct by the chief electoral officer,” Tlakula wrote to the parliamentary ad hoc committee, which is considering the public protector’s findings and request to submit the matter to the Electoral Court.
“Any allegations of improper conduct on the part of the chief electoral officer is a matter falling within the competence of the commission and not the Speaker of the National Assembly or the president.”
The Electoral Court had no jurisdiction since it dealt only with allegations against commissioners, which she was not at the time.
While this may seem like a technical matter, it could have wide-ranging repercussions: ultimately it could lead to the removal of the IEC chairwoman from office.
Only the Electoral Court can investigate allegations of misconduct against IEC commissioners.
Tlakula’s 55-page submission to the ad hoc committee, which emerged on Monday, argued that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had “misdirected” herself, or at least “failed to apply the law correctly”.
However, Tlakula’s submission appears to clash with the IEC’s position. Its vice-chairman, Terry Tselane, wrote to Speaker Max Sisulu saying that since the IEC “is not empowered to deal with this matter insofar as it relates to one of the commissioners” the commission awaited Parliament’s advice on what action it would recommend.