IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula Photo: Masi Losi

Johannesburg - The Electoral Court's recommendation on Wednesday that IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula be removed from her position was welcomed by three of the parties who brought the application.

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), however, said in a statement it noted the ruling, but could not immediately comment further as it need to study it.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said: “We welcome the decision by the Electoral Court. It is long overdue. She has been wasting everybody's time.”

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “The South African people can rest assured that EFF will support her removal in order to restore dignity and confidence in the office of the IEC.”

Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele said in a statement that her party felt vindicated and believed the ruling bolstered democracy.

In a written judgment on Wednesday, Judge Lotter Wepener recommended Tlakula be removed from her post. He concluded Tlakula had committed misconduct to an extent warranting her removal from office.

The relevant committee of the National Assembly would consider the court's recommendation and decide on further steps.

Holomisa said: “She (Tlakula) should have read the signal from the word go when the public protector found she was involved in a conflict of interest transaction.”

Holomisa said Tlakula's arrogance did not help her.

“She flatly refused to co-operate with forensic auditors.”

The UDM, EFF, Agang SA, Christian Democratic Party, and the Congress of the People approached the court seeking Tlakula's removal from office.

They believed Tlakula had behaved improperly over the leasing of the Electoral Commission of SA's (IEC) headquarters in Centurion in 2009.

Ndlozi said in a statement the IEC's integrity needed to be defended at all costs, as such institutions were the cornerstone of democracy.

“It is regrettable that a court had to rule on such an obvious matter in order for the political leadership to act... The coming local government elections will indeed be safe without Pansy Tlakula at the helm.”

Ramphele said in a statement that Agang SA awaited action from Parliament following the court's recommendation.

She questioned why the two largest parties, the ruling African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, had not joined the application.

Tlakula's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last year recommended that Parliament consider action against Tlakula for her “grossly irregular” role in the building's 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 Electoral Court found Tlakula had compromised the IEC and that her actions could have detracted from public confidence in it.

“In my view, the respondent compromised the independence and integrity of the commission to such an extent that her actions complained of constitute misconduct within the meaning of the Electoral Commission Act,” Wepener said in the written ruling.

The ANC noted reports on the judgment and that the court's recommendation would be referred to Parliament.

“The ANC will await the outcome of these processes before making any statements on this matter,” spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.