Vuma Mashinini has been appointed to the Independent Electoral Commission. File picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has officially appointed his former special advisor, Vuma Mashinini, to the country’s independent electoral commission.

“President Jacob Zuma has, in terms of section 6 of the Electoral Commission Act, 1996 (Act N. 51 of 1996) and on the recommendation of the National Assembly, appointed Mr Vuma Glenton Mashinini as a member of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for a period of seven years, with effect from 01 May 2015,” the Presidency said in a statement.

Shortly after the announcement, the country’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, slammed the appointment.

“We view this appointment as the latest attempt by the President to capture a critical state institution. Mr Mashinini is a close ally of President Zuma and he should never have been nominated for this position in the first place,” said DA MP Haniff Hoosen.

“It is the DA’s contention that Mr Mashinini’s close relationship with President Zuma, through his former post as Special Projects Advisor, rises to the level of a conflict of interest and renders him unsuitable to hold office at this Chapter 9 institution, which needs to be independent and free from undue political influence.”

Hoosen said his party would be consulting their lawyers to see whether a court challenge could be brought to stop the appointment.

On March 3, Parliament adopted a recommendation from Parliament’s home affairs committee that Mashinini replace former IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula as a commissioner, despite strong objections from opposition party benches.

The ANC used its majority in the Assembly to push the recommendation through when opposition parties called for a vote.

At the time, opposition parties, including the DA, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Freedom Front Plus, and the Congress of the People said Mashini’s close ties to Zuma and the governing ANC party rendered him unsuitable to head up the IEC.

The seat on the IEC became vacant when Tlakula resigned in September 2014 amid allegations of irregularities in the procurement of office space for electoral commission.