6.2.2014 Pansy Tlakula Chairperson of the IEC at a briefing on the registration of voters. Picture: Etienne Creux

Cape Town - Questions over the future of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairwoman Pansy Tlakula were ruled out of bounds on Tuesday when the electoral body briefed the home affairs committee on its roles, mandates and challenges.

In the absence of Tlakula, who went on special leave on July 1 following an Electoral Court recommendation for her removal from office, Tuesday’s parliamentary discussions centred on the IEC’s readiness for the 2016 local government elections, its budget, elections-related technical innovations, and possible legislative amendments.

This month, Tlakula lost her Constitutional Court challenge against the Electoral Court ruling in a case brought by several opposition parties just before the May 7 elections on the back of a public protector finding of mismanagement, procurement ir-regularities and conflict of interests related to the acquisition of a new R320-million head office during her term as chief electoral officer.

That finding was backed by an independent forensic audit.

Under the Electoral Commission Act the Electoral Court can recommend the removal of an IEC commissioner, including the chairperson, for misconduct, incapacity or incompetence. Such a finding must return to the National Assembly, where a committee has to endorse it.

A majority of National Assembly MPs must adopt a resolution calling for the removal from office, before the president acts on it.

IEC vice-chairman Terry Tselane said after the committee meeting that Tlakula’s future was not for the IEC to deal with. “We have to ensure we are ready for 2016 (local government elections) and leave these other things to the correct structures.”

The commission had put plans in place to run its committees on, among others, governance and electoral operations, on which Tlakula had served.

It is unclear when the matter will return to Parliament.

Home affairs committee chairman Lemias Mashile said the committee was awaiting a report on possible interactions between the Department of Home Affairs, the IEC, including its chairwoman, and even the Presidency.

“We are not going to jump ourselves,” Mashile said, adding that processes needed to unfold.

At Tuesday’s motion session in the House, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tried to bring a motion on Tlakula, but was ruled out of order by Speaker Baleka Mbete since the matter may come before a committee.

Last October, an ad hoc committee decided there could be no action against Tlakula because Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had misdirected herself and breached the separation of powers by asking the Speaker to refer the matter to the Electoral Court.

Cape Argus