Pansy Tlakula said that while the IEC was trying to curb the spread of voters being bused to events, it had recorded limited success.
Advocate Faith Dikeledi Pansy Tlakula, who has law degrees from top local and international law schools, seems equally at home in the boardroom as the classroom, and heads an institution essential to the integrity of South Africa’s democracy. Now the Independent Electoral Commission chair’s credibility is being questioned and there are even calls for her to resign.
Pansy Tlakula, as she is often known, has been reproved by the public protector for her apparent role in the IEC’s dubious deal with a property developer to lease new premises for the commission.
There have even been allegations that Tlakula is romantically involved with Thaba Mufamadi, who is chair of a company that holds a stake in Abland, the developer that leased the new office to the IEC. While Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has dismissed those claims – Madonsela says there is no concrete evidence to support them – she has blamed Tlakula for mismanaging the procurement process and even putting the IEC’s reputation in jeopardy.
This will come as a surprise to casual observers of Tlakula’s sterling career. She holds an undergraduate law degree from the University of the North, an LLB from Wits, and a master’s in law from Harvard.
She is an independent non-executive director at trading and distribution giant Bidvest and is a director of mining and investment company Lehotsa. The latter position was to get her into hot water, because she apparently failed to mention that she shares directorship duties with one of the Lehotsa co-founders: none other than Thaba Mufamadi.
Tlakula’s interests extend beyond the business world. She is the chancellor of Vaal University of Technology and works for the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, where she acts as Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information. In this role, she has been tasked with analysing member states&39; media laws and policies, and with reporting violations of press freedom. She also served as a member of the South African Human Rights Commission.
Tlakula has defended the empowerment of women and insisted that moves towards equality not exclude the rights of women. Speaking at a 1997 conference about affirmative action at the Washington University School of Law, she expressed concern about the persistence of traditional patriarchal structures in Africa.
“The majority of women in South Africa are women who still live under African customary law, which subjects them to discrimination that makes them perpetual minors under the guardianship of their husbands,” the University’s law journal reported her saying.
Tlakula has accused the public protector of procedural irregularities and has questioned her findings.
“I do not accept as correct the finding of the Public Protector that my participation in the evaluation process pertaining to the awarding of the tender for the IEC lease gave rise to a conflict of interest on my part,” she said.
Tlakula denied that the decision to award the tender was made by her or the IEC’s EXCO committee, of which she was a member.
“It was made by the Commissioners after two bidders were recommended to them without indicating any preference for either bidder.”
The DA and the UDM have called for her suspension.