Parliament fires Icasa chairman Rubben Mohlaloga
The National Assembly has resolved to fire the chairman of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)‚ Rubben Mohlaloga‚ following a fraud conviction.
The communications committee took the decision on Tuesday after it was requested to institute removal proceedings against Mohlaloga‚ a former ANC MP‚ by Speaker Baleka Mbete in February following a fraud conviction against him in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court in January.
Mohlaloga‚ along with five others‚ had been accused of defrauding the Land Bank to the tune of R6-million at a time when he was chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture.
The Icasa act prohibits anyone convicted of fraud from serving as a councillor of the communications industry regulator.
Fatima Ebrahim‚ a parliamentary legal adviser‚ told MPs that in his representations to the committee‚ Mahlaloga had argued against removal from office saying he would be appealing his conviction and sentencing‚ which is due to be handed down on April 3.
Ebrahim also stated that Mohlaloga‚ who has also previously served as a leader of the ANC Youth League‚ had also argued that while he benefited from R6-million from the Land Bank‚ the transaction was a loan even though no re-payment agreement existed and there was no evidence of him paying back the money.
Ebrahim said Mohlaloga had admitted to using some of the money to buy two BMWs.
"Mr Mohlaloga also confirms that he did indeed use some money from the R6-million but testified that the payments actually constituted a loan. He confirms that he did not sign any loan agreement and‚ at the time when the matter went to trial‚ he had not paid any money back‚" said Ebrahim.
"He confirms further that he used the money to buy two BMW vehicles and that he did indeed have access to that money in order to purchase those vehicles himself.
"In terms of his representations‚ he submits that the magistrate had very little regard to the legal issues that were raised during the trial."
Ebrahim also said Mohlaloga had blasted parliamentary proceedings against him.
"He further alleges that this opportunity that was given to him to provide representation is merely an act of lip service and the outcome has already being pre-determined by the committee."
But MPs across the political divide have rejected his arguments‚ including his request for him to be placed on "precautionary suspension with full pay".
MPs said the Icasa Act was clear on this matter.
ANC MP and chairperson of the communications committee‚ Humphrey Maxegwana‚ said their report would now be tabled before a sitting of the National Assembly for approval.