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Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has challenged Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman Pansy Tlakula to come clean instead of attacking her publicly.
Madonsela was responding yesterday to Tlakula’s claims that the public protector abused her powers during an investigation into the multimillion-rand IEC office-procurement deal that has embarrassed the electoral body.
Madonsela’s findings, made public on Monday, detailed what the public protector said was “improper (conduct)” on Tlakula’s part that “constituted maladministration” when the IEC awarded the tender to a company she allegedly had links with.
Madonsela told The Star yesterday that Tlakula’s accusations that she had abused her powers were “saddening”.
Tlakula’s comments indicated she didn’t think there had been any wrongdoing, “meaning that I am crazy”, Madonsela said.
Tlakula had lashed out at the “gross procedural irregularities in the conduct of the investigation; errors of fact of law; abuse of power by the public protector, leading up to the compilation of the provisional report; and submissions on legal principles regarding conflict of interests”.
Madonsela said in reaction: “We can’t be told by the institution concerned that we can’t speak to so-and-so. We decide who we want to interview.”
Tlakula also slammed Madonsela for giving her the final report only in the early hours of the day it was made public.
“Despite many requests to and assurances from the public protector that I would have access to the final report on alleged irregularities around the procurement of the IEC’s offices in Centurion at least one day prior to it being published, I only received it at 4am this morning (Monday),” said Tlakula.
Madonsela said Tlakula was not entitled to prior access to the final report.
“The final report is not for anyone to respond to, it’s my judgment. I give it to the parties involved because it’s common decency,” she said.
Madonsela criticised Tlakula in the report, saying she had not divulged her business interests before awarding the Centurion office tender to the property company Abland.
The public protector said Tlakula had confirmed to her that she was a co-director with ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi in Lehotsa Holdings.
Mufamadi was also chairman of Manaka Property Investments, the BEE partner and holder of a 20 percent stake in Abland, “which was awarded a contract to lease the (Centurion building) to accommodate the head offices of the electoral commission”, Madonsela said in her findings.
This was after Tlakula instructed that the first bidding process be cancelled and that the second bidding process would be headed by the executive committee she chaired as commission chief executive then, Madonsela said in her report.
“The official, who was handling the process, is the chief of staff in her office. So the new process was handled by her, having taken it away from the normal structures,” said Madonsela.
Tlakula had said she hadn’t benefited financially from the deal. “And she is telling the truth that the first (bidding) process was flawed, but the second process was still flawed,” Madonsela said.