‘I have performed well’

2012-06-09 10:12

The head of the National Consumer Commission is used to taking on Goliath on behalf of David, but she is determined to beat her biggest challenger yet – her boss.

Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi made the decision to take Rob Da­vies, minister of trade and industry, to court after Davies sent her a letter on May 21 notifying her of his intention not to renew her contract when it expires on September 3.

She may have lost round two in the Johannesburg Labour Court last week, when her application to interdict Davies from terminating her contract was dismissed with costs, but Mohlala-Mulaudzi hasn’t given up yet.

This week she, in response to last week’s court order, told Davies that her contract should be renewed due to her sterling performance.

“I gave Minister Davies the ­reason on Tuesday. If he comes with a decision not to renew my contract, we will be going to court again because I think there is no justification not to renew my ­employment contract,” Mohlala-Mulaudzi said.

“I have performed very well in setting up the commission. Our annual report shows the ­commission has reached 80% of our targets, and the remaining 20% was not met due to financial constraints and lack of human ­resource,” she said.

“After launching in March last year, we are sitting with 18 000 ­consumer complaints. I tried very hard to push the institution to greater heights.”

Mohlala-Mulaudzi alleged her ongoing court battles with her ­employer were caused by the ­manner she acrimoniously parted ways with her previous boss.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi was a former director-general of the department of communications, but her tenure concluded with her being fired. She took the matter to court.

President Jacob Zuma stepped in and ­resolved the issue by making Mohlala-Mulaudzi the consumer commissioner.

“It is unfortunate that I am ­having this situation with the trade and industry department, as it seems like I am reliving what happened to me two years ago.

I don’t think anyone in one lifetime should have a major confrontation with their political principal,” she said.

“I suppose that things happen for a reason and I guess in this ­particular case it is a bureaucracy coming back at me.”

The relationship between Mohlala-Mulaudzi – who was then the director-general – and Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda soured when he issued an instruction that all tenders for the department be cancelled until they had been discussed and approved by the minister.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi warned Nyanda that removing the administration of tenders from her would violate the Public Finances Management Act.

“I seems like I am back where I started two years ago. I think what is happening is no coincidence. It is certainly by design,” she said.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi thinks organised business has a bone to pick with her after her many unfavourable findings against corporates.

She ­mentioned the ICT, car ­retail and banking as industries that would largely want to see her gone as the commission’s decisions have had negative implications on the bottom line of businesses.

Department spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said according to the court order, what was happening between his department and Mohlala-Mulaudzi was not by ­design. “We respect Mohlala­ Mulaudzi as a person.

We are not fighting against her, and this has nothing to do with Nyanda or the department of communication.”

Paraphrasing the court order, Medupe said: “Her contract, which ends on September 3, was part of the settlement agreement reached with her after she left the department of communication,” he said.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi suggested: “Structurally – the fact that the consumer commission reports to the department is problematic – the legislation needs to look at where the consumer commission needs to be positioned because of our mandate and the type of work we do, that our line of accountability should be to Parliament as ­opposed to the particular minister.”

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