Discrediting of Muthambi’s legal advisor strengthens call to re-instate SABC Board Members
28 July 2015
It has emerged that Minister Faith Muthambi’s legal advisor, Daniel Mantsha, was struck off the roll of attorneys in 2007.
This is significant because it was on Mr Mantsha’s advice that Minister Muthambi recently overturned Parliament’s legal opinion on the removal of SABC Board Members, Ronnie Lubisi, Rachel Kalidass and Hope Zinde.
Now that we know Mr Mantsha is a discredited attorney, it follows that his advice to the Minister can be discredited too.
The judgment that struck Mr Mantsha off the roll, paints a picture of an attorney whose career was blighted by a litany of misconduct, including unprofessional behaviour, dishonesty and misappropriation of funds. Consider the following paragraphs in the judgment:
“It is a matter for comment that a legal practitioner of some six to seven years standing is so ignorant of the procedures used to bring disciplinary matters before the court.” (para. 9)
“He did not act with the degree of skill, care and attention expected of a practitioner.” (para. 14)
“He acted in a dishonest and deceitful manner.” (para. 14)
“He gave the applicant information which he knew to be false.” (para. 14)
“He acted unprofessionally and without the care and skill required by an attorney.” (para. 14)
“Deliberately misstating the facts to the applicant and the court is very serious and is a dramatic deviation from the standard of conduct expected from an attorney.” (para. 30]
Ultimately, the Judge found:
“Taken cumulatively, the respondent’s conduct referred to in this judgment demonstrates that [Mantsha] is not a fit and proper person to continue to practice as an attorney but that the only proper sanction is that of striking from the roll.”
Mr Mantsha was at Minister Muthambi’s side when she appeared before the Communications Portfolio Committee on 22 June to overturn Parliament’s legal opinion that had found that the removal of three SABC Board Members was unlawful.
In the absence of Committee Chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa, the ANC members of the Committee did a spectacular U-turn and fell into line behind Minister Muthambi and her discredited legal advisor.
Mr Mantsha’s testimony before the Committee failed to provide any compelling reasons to disregard Parliament’s legal opinion.
In addition, it turns out that one of the key tenets of Mr Mantsha’s argument has turned out to be false. At the Portfolio Committee on 22 June, Mr Mantsha argued that none of the Board Members had contested their dismissal and that there was therefore no reason to consider their reinstatement.
Yet, a few days after the Committee meeting, one of the axed Board Members, Ronnie Lubisi, made a public statement declaring that he had in fact lodged a complaint to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa.
I have therefore written to Ms. Moloi-Moropa to request that the Portfolio Committee meets to discuss this matter at the first available opportunity. There are ample reasons for the Portfolio Committee to disregard Minister Muthambi’s legal advice and have the three SABC Board Members re-instated.
Statement issued by Gavin Davis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, July 28 2015