IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula Photo: Masi Losi

Parliament - Parliament should await the outcome of IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula's appeal against the Electoral Court judgment finding her guilty of misconduct before it takes the recommended steps in the matter, the ANC chief whip's office said on Friday.

“The court's recommendation for the removal of the chairperson of the IEC is in line with the procedure outlined in the Electoral Commission Act,” it said in a statement. 

“In the light of her intention to challenge the ruling of the Electoral Court, we hold the view that the National Assembly should await the conclusion of the legal process before it exercises its obligations in terms of the law.” 

Several opposition parties approached the Electoral Court seeking Tlakula's resignation as Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chairwoman before the May 7 elections. 

The matter was postponed, however, until after the general elections to allow the court enough time to make a recommendation. 

The United Democratic Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, Agang SA, and Economic Freedom Fighters wanted Tlakula's resignation, arguing her integrity was compromised. 

This followed a report by the public protector and a subsequent forensic investigation by the National Treasury into the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park headquarters building in Centurion. Tlakula was chief electoral officer at the time. 

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last year recommended that Parliament consider action against Tlakula for her “grossly irregular” role in the procurement.
Madonsela found, among other things, that Tlakula had a relationship - possibly of a romantic nature - with the then chairman of Parliament's finance portfolio committee Thaba Mufamadi. 

Mufamadi was a shareholder in Abland, which owns the building and was awarded the R320 million contract to lease it. 

The Treasury probe found the process was neither fair, transparent, nor cost-effective. It found Tlakula neither gave guidance nor formally informed various people what was expected of them in the process. 

On Thursday, Tlakula's lawyer said she planned to ask President Jacob Zuma for a leave of absence following the court's recommendation. 

“Advocate Tlakula has taken the decision to institute an appeal to the Constitutional Court to have all these issues finally determined,” Leslie Mkhabela said. 

“In the meanwhile, she will be approaching the president of the republic to seek his permission to take leave of absence from office while the appeal process is under way.” 

The African National Congress chief whip's office said it had also noted Tlakula's request that she be placed on special leave. 

“We welcome her decision to put the interest of the commission ahead of her own by stepping aside while she exercises her rights in terms of the law,” he said. 

“It would indeed be premature and legally untenable for the institution (Parliament) to initiate a process and take a decision on a matter that is pending in court.”