I’m disappointed at the Department of Trade and Industry’s director-general Lionel October saying National Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s Labour Court case over her perceived dismissal by the department is “frivolous”.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s apparent court challenge comes after the department, under which the National Consumer Commission falls, advertised her position in the newspapers last week without her consultation.
Business Times reported on Friday (12 May 2012) that the department’s ill-advised decision to advertise NCC’s position without her knowledge comes after she complained to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela about October’s “unacceptable behaviour”, a complaint which is now under investigation.
Lodged at the end of March this year, the complaint included allegations of harassment, interference and bullying of Mohlala-Mulaudzi in the past year.
￼Mohlala-Mulaudzi said this week that: “I wasn’t consulted before the advert appeared, despite having an option to renew in my contract” and that she has since “filed papers in the Labour Court to stop the recruitment and protect my rights,” she told Business Times.
According to media reports, Mohlala-Mulaudzi accused October in her complaint to Madonsela of “retarding” the work of the commission, and lists alleged violations of the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Service Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
She said she did not “believe the DG has any power or authority to interfere in the independence of decision-making by the NCC … it gives rise to the impression that there are some industries that receive preferential treatment from the DTI”.
She further wants the Public Protector to probe charges that:
1) She was deprived of full control of the commission’s finances;
2) Money was not transferred to the commission for the first six months of operation;
3) She was denied access to and control over about R160-million in donor funding;
4) Procurement to the tune of about R8-million was undertaken without her authority or knowledge;
5) The DTI ignored requests for the commission to run its website itself;
6) October “interfered” in NCC human resources issues, including the transfer of staff without notification; and
7) A forensic investigator was appointed to investigate the unhappiness of 11 of 65 employees.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi believes October’s conduct is aimed at affecting the commission’s level of delivery or “frustrating the commissioner out of her job”. Which in my opinion is damn working.
But October is having none of that, calling the labour court challenge as “frivolous”.
As the accounting officer of the DTI, October said he “must ensure there are sufficient systems in place”. He further said “in her [Mohlala-Mulaudzi's] previous positions as pensions regulator and at the Department of Communications, there were major problems with financial management”.
“She has cases against her . we were formally advised of this by the minister of finance and the offices of the director-general of the Treasury,” October told Business Times on Friday [12 May 2012].
If October is so much worried about “cases” which the NCC still has to answer for and further claiming there were “major problems with financial management” in the position she previously occupied – is he so much of a coward to call a meeting and raise these issues with the NCC herself than to see it fit to raise them in the media first?
And if DTI – or October rather – does not trust Mohlala-Mulaudzi as it now appears, for whatever reason, shouldn’t have all these issues been raised and ironed out in a meeting at the time when her transfer to DTI was facilitated?
October said deputy consumer commissioner, Ebrahim Mohamed, told DTI in a letter that Mohlala-Mulaudzi was not working with him and that “the place was a mess”. He further maintained that the department would oppose NCC’s court action, adding that “there’s no contract with her … there was no obligation to renew.”
If October believes Mohamed than he believes his boss – Mohlala-Mulaudzi, that is – has he raised these issues with her following his receipt of the letter? I doubt. And why is that so?
October claims that in terms of an out-of-court settlement after she left the Department of Communications in 2010, the NCC had been taken on by the DTI for the unexpired portion of that contract
Whatever the case – that the NCC did not have contract with DTI, or that the department was under “no obligation to renew” her contract, or that all DTI did was to accommodate her for the remainder of her contract with the department of communication – the fact that there existed an employment relationship between DTI and Mohlahla-Mulaudzi, I am of the opinion that the department was indeed under obligation to discuss and or brief her that it no longer needed her service, for whatever reason, to avoid unecessary surprises.
And given how she ended up at DTI as NCC and the fact that she just got married recently – DTI’s treatment of Mohlala-Mulaudzi is unfair, unprofessional and it is the last thing she needs right now.
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