An Eastern Cape advocate's attempt to equate his plight with that of Nelson Mandela failed to persuade MPs on Wednesday that his nomination as a Human Rights commissioner should stand.
Loyiso Mpumlwana appeared before the National Assembly's justice committee to give his side of the story after his nomination was put on hold by President Jacob Zuma in October last year.
Zuma acted on the request of parliament, after it emerged that Mpumlwana had been less than frank during his interview for the post as commissioner.
It was only after his nomination had been approved by parliament that it emerged that Mpumlwana had a civil judgment against him for fraudulent misrepresentation.
The judgment turned on Mpumlwana having taken up a job with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission while still in the employ of the Eastern Cape government during the late 1990s.
Armed with copies of selected pages from the court record, Mpumlwana raked over the coals of his case in a bid to persuade MPs that he was a victim of unfair proceedings.
Had he not lacked the money for a lawyer and been sick on the day the matter was heard, the court would have found differently, he maintained. However, he had lodged no formal appeal against the judgment at the time.
He told MPs Mandela was one of many people with judgments against them. Had the circumstances of Mandela's conviction not been examined, he “would never have been president of the country”, Mpumlwana said.
He had not thought it necessary to mention during his interview for the post of commissioner that he had a judgment against him, as he was not applying for a job, but had been nominated and expected the committee to decide whether it agreed with his nomination.
“I did not lie on my CV, despite what was said in the judgment - and I did not lie to parliament,” said Mpumlwana.
“I think I have explained each and every issue the judgment decided… (I'm) not saying change the decision of the court, but it was ridiculous,” he said.
Committee chairman Ngoako Ramatlhodi explained to Mpumlwana that the committee could not act as a court of appeal and decide on the merits of his case, but felt that he should be allowed to give his version.
The decision by MPs from the ANC, DA, IFP, Cope and the ACDP was unanimous: Mpumlwana's failure to disclose the judgment against him, whether it had been fair or not, meant that he was not a fit and proper person to serve on the Human Rights Commission.
The committee must now consider whether or not to appoint another of the candidates who were short-listed last year, or to begin a fresh round of nominations and interviews.