Controversial National Consumer Commission (NCC) head and former communications director-general Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi has been labelled a liar by the Trade and Industry Department over her claims that the department has effectively fired her by advertising her job in the newspapers.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi and the department made it clear on Sunday they would fight each other fiercely in court as the row over the termination of her contract intensified.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi courted controversy during her fallout with then-communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, who fired her as director-general in 2010.
She took Nyanda and the department to court. A settlement was reached in which she was to be appointed to an equivalent position elsewhere in the public service for the remainder of her contract.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi was then appointed head of the National Consumer Commission.
But she is now at loggerheads with another cabinet minister, Rob Davies, as she refuses to recognise the termination of her contract.
She says she was supposed to have been called in to discuss the renewal of her contract.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi said on Sunday she was being victimised for reporting the trade and industry director-general, Lionel October, to the Public Protector’s office.
She has said that she learnt her contract was not to renewed only when she saw her job being advertised in the Sunday newspapers last week.
However, the department has dismissed this, saying she has known since February that her contract is not to be renewed.
At the centre of the storm is a letter Davies sent to Mohlala-Mulaudzi in February. In it he informed her that her contract would not be automatically renewed.
“The terms of your settlement agreement and your appointment letter stipulate that your contract term is from November 1, 2010, until August 25, 2012. Given this context, your contract term will not be automatically renewed.
“Rather, in the interests of good governance, the (trade and industry) department will embark on an open recruitment process to appoint the next commissioner. You are, of course, welcome to apply for this post as soon as the recruitment process has been triggered,” says the February 3 letter from Davies.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi said on Sunday she did not recognise the letter as a termination of her contract because her employment contract stipulated she must be consulted about the renewal of her contract.
“I told them that my lawyers and I do not recognise that letter and we wrote back to them, but they never responded.
“They have been quiet all along until they advertised the position.
“If everything was above board, why are they only advertising the position now and not in February? Why are they advertising the job four months before the position has to be filled?
“The answer is that the Public Protector has communicated to them and myself that she deems the complaint I laid against the director-general as valid.
“That is the only reason.”
Mohlala-Mulaudzi said she was concerned that this saga might portray her as a troublemaker considering how she left her previous job.
But she said she was only doing so to protect her rights when they are being trampled on.
She said a judge will have to decide who is right or wrong but that she was confident she would win the case.
Spokesman Sidwell Medupe said on Sunday the Department of Trade and Industry would fight the case in court.
“She cannot say she learnt about the advert in the papers because the minister wrote to her about it way before the advert was placed.
“She also cannot claim that she is being victimised for her Public Protector complaint because the complaint was laid way after she had been informed about this,” he said.
“As the (department) we are going ahead with the process and we will fight her in court. There is nothing wrong with the way this was handled.”
Mohlala-Mulaudzi did not have a normal contract with the department as she had been employed there in terms of a settlement from her previous job.
“She was employed for the balance left on her contract, which ends in August,” Medupe said.
“She did not apply for the job like everybody else and that contract will not be renewed.
“She now has to apply for the job like everybody else. Her statement that she is being victimised for the Public Protector complaint is a lie.
“We really feel she is misleading people by all that she has been saying.”