The direct marketing association of South Africa (DMASA) is facing a he-said, she-said internal tussle, as accusation fly between the board and its members relating to the organisation’s past financial troubles and a “slanderous” campaign against its former CEO.
The DMASA was established as an independent body in 2005, to both regulate and protect the direct marketing industry.
It aims to protect both the industry and consumers from unethical or ignorant practitioners, and to lobby against adverse legislation from government and other regulatory bodies.
In February 2012, then-CEO Brian Mdluli announced his resignation from the organisation to pursue a career in business.
However, an email sent to DMA members ahead of its AGM painted a different picture, accusing Mdluli of mismanagement, and appealing to members to not to re-elect the former CEO to its board.
In the email, the DMA told its members that Mdluli was making erroneous and borderline slanderous claims against the organization in order to secure support for his nomination.
In response, the DMA said that it was Mdluli’s “mismanagement and non-transparency” during his tenure that was responsible for the financial troubles the organisation found itself in, stating further that the board was taking action against him.
When BusinessTech contacted Mdluli regarding the claims made against him, he told the publication that it was just a “huge misunderstanding” and gave no further comment or confirmation of his alleged bid for nomination.
However, in an open letter addressed to DMA COO Alistair Tempest after the DMA’s AGM, CEO of 5th Dimension, Keith Wiser, challenged the organisation’s operational practices and the campaign against Mdluli, announcing it was resigning from the group.
In the letter, Wiser lambasted the DMA board, alleging that it deliberately misled members on a number of operational factors, and painted an “inaccurate and horrendous picture” of Mdluli while ignoring its own accountability in the organisation’s financial problems.
Wiser also said that the DMA’s case and investigation against Mdluli revealed no evidence against him.
“At our meeting on May 21st you (Tempest) admitted that, whilst the former CEO may have exceeded his supposed mandate on a couple of occasions, there was no evidence of malpractice,” Wiser said.
“In fact it was admitted at the AGM that the forensic audit which was carried out found no evidence.”
BusinessTech contacted Tempest for response to Wiser’s claims, but the COO said that he could not comment on the matter until such time as its members had been briefed on the situation, adding that it was first and foremost an internal issue.
However, Tempest did confirm that the DMASA had seen a number of difficult financial years, but “this year expects a healthy surplus on its annual turnover with new services offered to its members.”