“I believe that left unchallenged, the report of the Public Protector into the IEC lease has the potential to damage the credibility of the important institution in which I have worked for more than 10 years,” she said in a statement.
Madonsela recommended yesterday that Parliament consider taking action against Tlakula.
She said Tlakula had played a “grossly irregular” role in procuring the Riverside Office Park building, in Centurion, for the IEC’s head office.
In a probe into the matter, Madonsela found improper conduct and maladministration on Tlakula’s part, and a conflict of interest involving a co-director, with whom she was accused of being romantically involved.
She recommended that the IEC review its agreement with Abland, which was awarded the contract to lease the Riverside Office Park building.
Tlakula is accused of having a romantic relationship with Parliament’s finance portfolio committee chairman Thaba Mufamadi, who owns a 20% stake in Abland by virtue of co-directorship in Lehotsa Investments (Pty) Limited.
No finding has been made that I made any personal gain, obtained any financial or other interest in the company. I could therefore not have breached the policy as it stands
Tlakula said she had respect for the office of the Public Protector as a Chapter 9 institution but she was duty bound to point out that the investigation and report was fraught with procedural and substantive irregularities. She identified errors of law and fact, matters on which she might seek legal redress.
“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.
She said conflict of interest in relation to the IEC was a matter that is expressly regulated by a policy of the IEC. The policy prohibits an employee from making any personal gain at the expense of or as a result of their employment of the IEC, she explained.
“No finding has been made that I made any personal gain, obtained any financial or other interest in the company. I could therefore not have breached the policy as it stands,” she said.
Tlakula said the report was very significant where it was mute on the fact that she reversed an award that was approved by the Commission which was not made through a competitive process.
“The Public Protector instead slates me for that intervention. The decision to award the tender was neither made by me, nor the EXCO committee of six, of which I was a member.”
“It was made by the Commissioners after two bidders were recommended to them without indicating any preference for either bidder,” she said.
Tlakula said she was ready to accept non-compliance with procurement processes where they existed.
“I wish to emphasise that no public funds were misappropriated nor did I benefit in any manner from the procurement. I am of the firm view that the IEC got value for money in the procurement of the turnkey solution,” she said.
She said she welcomed the recommendation and should the recommendation be accepted, she would make appropriate submissions should she be invited.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for her suspension. DA Member of Parliament, Manny de Freitas, said as head of the IEC, there should be no questions around her integrity or conduct.