ICASA chairperson faces the axe

Read time 2min 50sec
The exit of the chairperson of the ICASA council is imminent.
The exit of the chairperson of the ICASA council is imminent.

Rubben Mohlaloga's days as member and chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) will soon be over, as Parliament's communications committee has undertaken to begin a process of removing him from his post.

Mohlaloga, whose appointment as chairperson of ICASA came into effect on 1 December 2017, was found guilty of fraud and money laundering by a specialised commercial crimes court last month.

According to the Hawks, the ICASA chairperson, together with former Land Bank CEO Philemon Mohlahlane and other accomplices, conspired and transferred R6 million into Masepule Dinga Attorneys' trust account.

After the R6 million was received, say the Hawks, the funds were distributed and a farm was bought for R2 million, as well as an X5 BMW and a BMW 118i for Mohlaloga, who was a member of Parliament and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Agriculture at the time.

Following Mohlaloga's fraud conviction, the communications ministry, which exercises oversight of ICASA, said it would wait for guidance from Parliament on what steps to follow concerning the chairperson's future at the regulator.

Yesterday, Humphrey Maxegwana, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Commutations, confirmed a process to remove Mohlaloga is under way and will be instituted in terms of Section 8 of the ICASA Act No 13 of 2000.

According to Maxegwana, the Act is clear on what constitutes disqualification to persons serving on the ICASA council.

"Out of respect of the rule of natural justice, the committee will inform him about the decision and give him five working days to explain why he should not be removed from ICASA," he said.

Making a comeback

Mohlaloga joined ICASA in July 2013. During this time, he served as councillor and had a stint as acting chairperson.

His tenure at ICASA came to an end last September, after the regulator announced his departure and said Paris Mashile would replace him as acting chairperson.

Mohlaloga made a comeback and was appointed as chairperson of the ICASA council in December, despite the fraud allegations hanging over his head.

When Mohlaloga was initially appointed as a councillor in 2013, he had already been charged with defrauding the Land Bank of R6 million, although the case had yet to go through the court process.

At the time, the communications department, under Dina Pule, said it was unaware Mohlaloga had the fraud charge hanging over his head when he was short-listed. He had also not disclosed the matter to the department, despite holding a senior position.

Although the post of ICASA chairperson still hangs in balance, the eight positions that make up the authority's highest decision-making body have been successfully filled.

In December, councillors Thembeka Semane and Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa were appointed on the terms that they will serve for a period of four years. They join councillors Paris Mashile, Botlenyana Mokhele, Peter Zimri, Palesa Kadi, Dimakatso Qocha and Keabetswe Modimoeng.

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