Hon Chairperson, following an investigation by the Public Protector's office into complaints of maladministration, corruption and irregularities in the procurement of the Riverside Office Park to accommodate the head office of the Independent Electoral Commission in August 2013, the Public Protector issued her report on this matter entitled "Inappropriate Moves: Report 13 of 2013-2014".
At the same time, the Speaker of the National Assembly received a letter from the Public Protector to which Report 13 of 2013-14 was attached for the Speaker's information.
In her letter to the Speaker, the Public Protector stated, amongst other things, that:
... the widely spread submissions made by Adv Tlakula, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission ... in which she challenges my investigation's procedural and substantive fairness has raised serious concerns.
... in view of the above and in order to ensure that fairness prevails, I would humbly request you, the Hon Speaker, to intervene in terms of section 2(b)(iii) of the Public Protector Act, Act 23 of 1994, and consider referring the matter to the Chairperson of the Electoral Court to allow him an opportunity to consider investigating the matter in terms of section 20(7) of the Electoral Commission Act.
On Wednesday, 11 September 2013, the National Assembly approved the resolution establishing an ad hoc committee to "consider and report on the recommendations contained in the Public Protector Report 13 of 2013-2014, and also to consider the request of the Public Protector that the report be referred to the Electoral Court".
At its first meeting your ad hoc committee agreed to request formal written responses to the Public Protector Report 13 of 2013-14 from the IEC; the Chairperson of the IEC, Adv Tlakula; the former commissioners of the IEC; and the Auditor-General's office, which the ad hoc committee subsequently received.
In addition, as chair of the ad hoc committee, I wrote to the Public Protector seeking clarity on her reference to section 2(b)(iii) of the Public Protector Act, because there is no roman figure (iii) in section 2(b) of that Act. In her written reply, the Public Protector corrects the incorrect reference and then goes on to state in paragraph 3:
... my intention for referring the matter to the Speaker was for him to consider the report as both institutions of the Public Protector and the Electoral Commission report to the Speaker administratively. With respect, it was never my intention to have the report tabled in Parliament
Equally significantly, the IEC states in its written response in paragraph 3:
... our understanding is that the Electoral Commission is not empowered to deal with this matter in-so-far as it relates to one of the commissioners. Accordingly, we will wait for the hon Speaker to advise us of the advice given to the President on the appropriate action considered to be taken
Moreover, in order to assist the ad hoc committee in its consideration of this matter, the committee requested a legal opinion from Parliament's legal advisers. This legal opinion went a long way in assisting the ad hoc committee to reach the conclusions contained in the report before the House.
It must be noted that the intention of the Public Protector was for the Speaker to meet with the IEC, to the exclusion of its chairperson, and consider whether action should be taken against Adv Tlakula for her role in the procurement of the Riverside Office Park. The ad hoc committee rejects this recommendation for the reasons provided in our report and asks the National Assembly to endorse its findings by adopting this report, which was agreed to unanimously in the ad hoc committee. In conclusion, allow me to express the ad hoc committee's thanks and appreciation to the offices of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, and to the Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy for their assistance and co- operation. We also express our appreciation to the secretariat of the committee for their efficiency and assistance. Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to all hon members of the ad hoc committee, particularly the hon James Selfe and the hon Johnny de Lange. I thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
The Chief Whip of the Majority Party: house Chairperson, I move:
That the Report be adopted.
Declarations of vote: