'I’m a patriot, not a trouble maker', says firebrand SABC candidate

A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)
A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

South African Broadcasting Corporation board hopeful Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi may have had an impressive resume, but found herself facing questions in Parliament regarding past controversies and boardroom battles.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications began the process of filling eight vacancies on the SABC's board on Tuesday, interviewing of its 24 shortlisted candidates.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi is the former director-general in the department of communications who was axed amid a controversial dispute with former minister Siphiwe Nyanda. She took on the minister and former president Jacob Zuma in a widely reported legal battle before being appointed to head up the national consumer commission.

She later approached the Labour Court – which ruled in her favour – after reportedly finding out via a Sunday newspaper that that job was up for grabs, too.

She spoke of her extensive experience working in communications, including in the Department of Communications, at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, and on Telkom's initial public offering.

She also noted experience with the pensions adjudicator and the Estate Agency Affairs board.

'Not a trouble maker'

Mohlala-Mulaudzi is an attorney, and other notable experience is her representation of South African Football Association boss Danny Jordaan in the rape allegations against him.

She was appointed to the Estate Agency Affairs board, but said she did not believe it would constitute a conflict of interest if she were appointed to the SABC board.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme asked Mohlala about her legal disputes with Nyanda. Zuma, whom she successfully legally challenged, had removed her from the department.

Van Damme asked if this was an example of grit in the face of interference, or simply stubbornness.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi replied: "I am not a trouble maker. I am a proud South African. If I see that the principles I espouse are not being advanced, I will stand up against it."

She said she had worked well under Minister Trevor Manuel as pensions adjudicator, but called a time when she worked under Minister Rob Davies as National Consumer Commissioner "unfortunate".

Assault allegations

Van Damme asked her about an incident with a domestic worker whom Mohlala accused of stealing from her in a row that led to her husband reportedly assaulting the domestic worker.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi confirmed a physical altercation, but said it was the domestic worker that assaulted her. She denied that her husband assaulted the domestic worker or tried to pay the domestic worker off to keep quiet about an assault.

She said the fact that the domestic worker withdrew her charges on the matter spoke for itself.

When asked about the SABC’s inability to collect TV license revenue, Mohlala-Mulaudzi suggested a "lifetime TV license", since the SABC experiencing difficulty inspecting compliance.

Committee member for the DA Veronica Van Dyk asked her if she would continue to represent Jordaan in his rape case if appointed to the SABC board, to which Mohlala said she would not.

Asked about the SABC’s plans to retrench staff, she said she did not support retrenchment as a means of stabilising the SABC.

She said the business could be made more viable, and South Africans did not need to lose jobs to save the broadcaster.

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