12 September 2023 | Story Anthony Mthembu | Photo Charl Devenish
Faculty of Law signing of Memoranda of Understanding
The respective representatives from the NCC, NCR and the UFS celebrate the launch of their new partnership. From left, Thezi Mabuza, Acting Commissioner of the NCC; Nomsa Motshegare, CEO of the National Credit Regulator; and Prof Francis Petersen; Vice- Chancellor and Principal of the UFS.

The Department of Mercantile Law at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Law, in collaboration with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Credit Regulator (NCR), launched a partnership through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). The MOUs were signed at a function held on 7 September 2023 in the Equitas Senate Hall at the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus. 

In attendance at the signing was the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UFS, Prof Francis Petersen; the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Serges Kamga; the CEO of the National Credit Regulator, Nomsa Motshegare; Acting Commissioner of the National Consumer Commission, Thezi Mabuza; and Timothy Radikeledi from the Provincial Consumer Protection Office, amongst others. 

“This gathering signifies the dawn of something new for the future of this institution and for consumerism. We hope that this partnership will contribute towards improved consumer protection through research which is going to influence consumer protection while addressing consumer concerns in the province and within the South African Development Community,’’ said Mabuza.

What the partnership entails

“The MOUs focus more on consumer protection in the surrounding communities of the university, the Free State province and ultimately in the country,’’ said Ntando Ncamane, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law.

Through the signing of these MOUs, the partners commit to accomplishing several objectives which will be beneficial to UFS students and beyond. For instance, this agreement allows the Faculty of Law to infuse consumer protection principles in the curriculum through developing and delivering various academic modules. The Consumer Protection and Credit Law module is one such example. The module was initially offered as a core module to second-year students, however, through this partnership it will also be included as an elective in the LLB programme as well as at a master’s degree level.

“We envisage an opportunity where real cases of the consumer commission and credit regulator will be shared with students to analyse and critique, and even develop novel approaches that address some of the consumer issues,” said Motshegare.

In addition, there is a research element infused in this agreement. According to Ncamane, the partners will work hand-in-hand to create a research-based approach that is responsive and effective in addressing consumer concerns in the Free State province.

There will also be a series of consumer protection programmes implemented in the Free State.

A partnership which upholds the values of Vision 130

The UFS is currently embarking on an ambitious plan to become a research-led and globally impactful institution by 2034. As such, Prof Kamga indicates that, “the strategic partnership between the UFS, NCC and NCR are really important to the University, they are an important step in the achievement of the UFS’s Vision 130”.

In addition, as the MOUs will make provisions for more research, Prof Kamga says “the MOUs will create opportunities to increase our research capacity and capability in the area of consumer production.’’

The significance and impact of the MOUs

Motshegare said this partnership comes at a time when concerted efforts are needed to promote and strengthen consumer protection measures in the country. Therefore, this partnership will ensure that the UFS shapes graduates who will ultimately contribute towards consumer protection across the country. 

However, she said, most importantly, this joint venture will “produce graduates who will become the consumer protection activists and champions this country so greatly needs."

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