Rubben Mohlaloga, who is facing charges of defrauding the Land Bank of R6m, has been named to the nine-person council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) by communications minister Dina Pule.
News of his appointment is contained in the Government Gazette of 3 July. Pule, who signed the order on 28 June, had been expected to join Icasa’s council more than six months ago, after he was named by the minister to the position.
Parliament is responsible for drawing up a shortlist of candidates for Icasa’s council, with Pule making the final choices from that list.
Mohlaloga is set to hold the position for four years from 1 July.
In December 2012, Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn called on the minister to take “whatever legal steps necessary” to withdraw Mohlaloga’s appointment after reports of the charges against him came to light. Mohlaloga was arrested in October last year and was subsequently released on bail.
Shinn said that when Mohlaloga was interviewed by parliament’s portfolio committee in September last year, he had not been criminally charged and, as a result, could honestly have said at the time that there was no criminal record against him or any other conflict of interest that could disqualify him from the appointment. However, she said at the time that he must have suspected there was action pending against him.
On Monday, Pule’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, said there have been “no developments” in the case against Mohlaloga but added that there was no reason he shouldn’t take up the Icasa job.
“There is nothing that says people can’t be appointed when they have not been proven guilty of wrongdoing,” Qoza says. “As the constitution stipulates, he is innocent until proven guilty.”
Shinn on Monday told TechCentral that she raised the matter with parliament’s legal adviser but, because Mohlaloga hasn’t been convicted, he can’t be prevented from taking up the Icasa job.
The DA objected formally to Mohlaloga’s appointment. Shinn said she “wasn’t impressed with him at all” when he was interviewed by parliament’s portfolio committee. “I thought he was very weak, and I said so in the house.”
Mohlaloga, she added, was “arrogant, verbose, and offered no specific answers as to how to deal with any of the problems facing Icasa”.
Shinn said that despite his poor performance during the interview process, Mohlaloga was a “shoo-in” because he was the only candidate the ANC members of the committee wouldn’t compromise on. “He’s a former colleague of theirs because he came from the portfolio committee in the previous parliament.”
If Mohlaloga is found guilty of the fraud charges hanging over him, he can be removed from his position as an Icasa councillor because those who hold the position have to be “of good character” and can’t have a criminal record, Shinn explains.
However, given how long court proceedings can take, Mohlaloga could serve the bulk or even all of his four-year tenure before the case against him is finalised. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media