Mosotho Moepya, the former chief executive of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), has stood firm on his most controversial decision, taken while he was at the helm.
That decision has now come back to haunt him as he seeks to return to the IEC as a commissioner. Moepya had authorised payment of the R500 000 legal bill of disgraced former chairperson Pansy Tlakula in 2014.
The IEC paid Tlakula’s legal fees on his authorisation, as she sought to discredit the Public Protector’s damning findings against her.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela had found that Tlakula, when she was chief executive in 2011, had flouted regulations ahead of signing a R320millon lease agreement with property group Abland for the IEC’s headquarters in Centurion.
A cloud has been hanging over Moepya’s head since Terry Tselane, the outgoing commissioner, claimed that Tlakula’s legal fees were paid "irregularly".
In 2014, Tselane told a newspaper that the decision was a violation of the Public Finance Management Act because the IEC was not asked for permission at the time.
Moepya has now deposed an affidavit defending his decision to authorise the payment.
“To my knowledge, Tselane has never suggested that he was misquoted in the report, which attributed a statement to him that I had (improperly) decided, without authorisation, to provide funds to Tlakula,” Moepya said in the papers.
Moepya was requested by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to submit this affidavit last month. Justice Mogoeng chaired a panel that interviewed Moepya and several others for three vacant positions for commissioners at the IEC.
Justice Mogoeng wanted Moepya to explain his role in the IEC’s decision to pay the R500000 towards Tlakula’s legal expenses.
Denying that he improperly facilitated payment of Tlakula’s legal fees, Moepya said he took the decision based on sound legal advice, and after consulting the IEC's commissioners at the time.
The legal advice sought from Ngwako Maenetje SC stipulated that he had the authority to authorise the payment of Tlakula’s legal fees because they were linked to her official duties.
Said Moepya: “I did not require the authority or concurrence of the members of the commission in order to take such decisions
“That, notwithstanding, I constantly consulted the members of the commission and kept them informed of developments timeously.
“The decisions I took in this regard were informed by constant consultations with members of the commission, and legal advice obtained from a reputable senior counsel; and there is nothing improper about these decisions,” said Moepya.
“The decisions I took in this regard were not intended to improperly benefit Tlakula. My initial decision applied unconditionally to all the members of the commission and all employees of the IEC, who had been called upon by the public protector to appear before her.”
This "unconditionality " also saw Moepya not stipulating that Tlakula should repay the fees if she lost her appeal against an Electoral Court ruling, which forced her to step down.
“I did not impose any conditions regarding the repayment of the legal fees in the event that Tlakula’s intended appeal failed.
"In my discussions with Maenetje there was an agreement that it would be difficult to impose such a condition, (because) previous funding of her legal costs in relation to the matter had been unconditional.
"Also, the IEC had no extant policy regulating the issue,” said Moepya, who now has to try to convince a parliamentary ad hoc committee of his argument.@BonganiNkosi87