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Minister defends consumer head move

May 14 2012 16:59 Sapa

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Cape Town - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has defended his department's decision not to renew the contract of the head of the National Consumer Commission (NCC).

"I didn't know this person from a bar of soap myself," Davies said of the appointment of NCC head Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi. "There was no formal interview," he said.

"There was some discussion in the department. People felt she had the potential to do the job and we would take her on a trial basis to see how she performed."

Mohlala-Mulaudzi claimed she learned of her contract's termination only when she saw her position advertised in a Sunday newspaper last week.

She is taking the trade and industry department to court after claiming she was effectively dismissed when her position was advertised.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi was appointed NCC head in 2010 following an out-of-court settlement with the department, after her removal as department director general by former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda.

She claimed she was being victimised for reporting the department's current director general Lionel October to the public protector.

Davies said he had met Mohlala-Mulaudzi on a few occasions and "discussed a few things".

One of his suggestions was better "synergies" between the NCC and the National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications.

"I have been seeking an active and engaged role. She hasn't taken up any of our suggestions. She has had her own priorities and her own focuses and maybe they are a result of requests that come in."

The department has never gone out and said "don't do this, don't do that, don't do the other thing", Davies said.

"There has been no intention on our side that we want a lame duck consumer commission. Absolutely not.

"My intention was not to dismiss anyone but to improve systems in NCC."

Davies dismissed suggestions that the NCC's budget had been deliberately cut.

"We did not at any stage say cut the budget of the NCC, but the NCC didn't get everything it wanted but neither did we get everything we wanted to in industrial policy either."

Mohlala-Mulaudzi had also refused to cooperate with an independent investigation looking into the state of affairs at the NCC, after complaints from the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union about non-adherence to the terms of a transfer agreement and other concerns raised by staff members.

"The intention of conducting this was to provide Minister Davies with an independent assessment report that can enable him to act decisively and bring the situation back to normal," the department said in a statement released on Monday.

"We regret to mention that Commissioner Mohlala-Mulaudzi refused to cooperate with the investigators on this matter."



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