Johannesburg - The EFF on Tuesday welcomed IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula's resignation and said her departure was in the interests of democracy.
“The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomes the resignation of the chairperson of IEC, Pansy Tlakula, following her involvement in maladministration at the Electoral Commission (IEC),” spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.
“Tlakula was a threat to democracy because she could be influenced by politicians.”
Ndlozi said her resignation saved Parliament the trouble of having to remove her to restore public trust and integrity to the IEC.
Tlakula announced her resignation on Tuesday and said she had submitted her letter of resignation to President Jacob Zuma.
“I leave the IEC with a heavy heart and wish to thank the President, the National Assembly and the people of South Africa for affording me the opportunity to serve in one of the most important institutions promoting democracy.”
Tlakula said she believed that in the 13 years she spent at the helm of the organisation she served without fear or favour, and contributed to building an institution that delivered election results that were accepted by all political parties.
“I wish to thank all political parties for the support they gave me throughout the years,” she said.
Tlakula came under attack from political parties in the lead up to the elections with some calling for her resignation.
She was taken to court by the United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The parties argued that her integrity had been compromised. The application followed a forensic investigation by Treasury into 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 found Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people what was expected of them in the process.
Tlakula had 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.
She said the process of trying to clear her name had been long drawn out and for the sake of the institution, she decided to abandon this process and resign.
The presidency confirmed receipt of the letter and said Zuma would consider it.
The United Democratic Movement also welcomed Tlakula's resignation. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa however lamented the time it took for her to step down.
“She has at last seen the light, but it is a pity that she was forced to do so at great cost to government and political parties,” Holomisa said in a statement.
“There are now no more excuses; the Electoral Commission must immediately implement all the findings of the Public Protector, including those that fingered certain IEC officials,” he said.
Holomisa said: “Let this be a lesson to other people in high places who believe they are untouchable and above the constitutional organs and courts of this country.”
The African National Congress thanked Tlakula for her contributions towards building a united country.
Spokesman Zizi Kodwa said Tlakula had served the people of South Africa with distinction and dedication over her tenure.
“As a result of the hard work by advocate Tlakula and her team, the IEC has consistently delivered credible, free and fair elections. Their sterling work has been recognised as such not only in SA but beyond our country's borders and the world,” he said.
The IEC said Tlakula's resignation signalled the end of a “particularly challenging and tumultuous period”.
“The Electoral Commission has noted the resignation of Chairperson Adv. Pansy Tlakula,” the IEC said in a statement.
“Her resignation opens the way for the commission to begin closing a particularly challenging and tumultuous period in the Electoral Commission’s history and to move forward as an institution.”
The commission said it hoped history would show Tlakula had “made a significant contribution to deepening electoral democracy both here and outside of South Africa during her long career at the Electoral Commission”.
It expressed confidence that it had the “capability, experience and leadership within the IEC to continue to deliver free, fair and credible elections”.
The National Freedom Party said on Tuesday that Tlakula should have resigned when Madonsela's report was released.
“As the party, we always held a view that Tlakula should have done the honourable thing and tendered her resignation a long time ago,” NFP President Zanele Magwaza-Msibi said in a statement.
She said government should not appoint Tlakula into another strategic position.
“It has been the norm whereby we saw people accused of gross misconduct being elevated to senior positions in government and public sector.”
Tlakula's replacement as IEC chairwoman should bring credibility to the institution, said Magwaza-Msibi.
“This is a chance for the ruling party to stabilise the IEC and appoint someone with good track record.”
The office of the ANC Chief Whip said on Tuesday that Tlakula “made an immense contribution to the institution's continuous management of highest quality and efficient elections.”
“We are confident that the IEC will continue to live up to its excellent reputation of presiding over free, fair, transparent and credible election as it had done since the dawn of democracy in 1994,” spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.