Consumer commissioner (1) dti (0)

2012-05-19 14:45

Friday’s court ruling means trade and industry must suspend recruitment process

The national Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi has won the first battle of what she hopes will not be too many others after the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered the trade and industry minister to withdraw his letter announcing that it would terminate her contract at the end of August.

Minister of the trade and industry department (dti) Rob Davies in February sent Mohlala-Mulaudzi a letter announcing that he would terminate her contract when it came to its conclusion, but said she was free to reapply for the position and she would be considered along with other candidates.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi contested this, saying her contract gave her first right to be consulted and given the reasons her contract would or would not be renewed.

In terms of the contract, Mohlala-Mulaudzi is entitled to respond to the minister’s decision within 10 days of receiving the communiqué from the minister.

A fortnight ago, the dti placed adverts for the national consumer commissioner post in Sunday newspapers.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi interpreted this to mean that the minister had violated the terms of their employment agreement, which gave her the right to be consulted about her performance before the vacancy was advertised.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi has also laid a complaint against dti director-general Lionel October, whom she accused of interfering with her duties as head of the consumer protector office. She said October had withheld the national consumer commission’s (NCC) budget for half of the financial year and spent some of it on projects she neither commissioned nor consulted on.

She said October had created a false impression to the trade unions that she had resisted signing the transfer of staff from the dti to the NCC, when in fact it was October who had not informed her she needed to sign the documents.

October denied the allegations, saying that as the accounting officer, he withheld the money from the NCC because it did not have the financial systems to manage its budget.

Friday’s decision means that the dti must suspend its recruitment process, but does not necessarily mean that Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s contract will be renewed.

“I know that this is just the first round, but I hope that there will not be any more rounds to fight. I hope I will be judged in terms of my performance, but you never know. I really hope that sanity will prevail,” she said.

“The decision means that I have a real chance of fighting to retain my job.”

The dti spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said the court has vindicated the Minister in so far as the term of Mohlala’s contract is concerned.

“Mohlala ‘s contention throughout was that her contract was for a five year period. This was at the heart of the dispute between the parties. Once the Minister filed his opposing affidavit, Mohlala changed her argument to that of not having been consulted,” he said.

» In our story last week, we misspelt Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s last name. We apologise for the error 

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