KZN wishes it took a chance with old Lotto

Frustration is growing in KwaZulu-Natal at the slow pace of payouts to charities from the huge fund accumulated through the National Lottery.

The frustration has been fuelled in this province by memories of the old and efficient Natal Lotto, with its quick and well-publicised distribution of funds.

The old Lotto was recalled again this week when the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund announced that it had now paid out only about R12-million to needy causes.

This means that a meagre 2 percent of the R600-million acquired by the lottery fund has so far been given to the needy.

The Lotteries Board has another 2 213 to assess and has said it will meet again within the next few weeks.

But it has thus far been painfully slow in parting with its money and applicants for help from KwaZulu-Natal complain that its staff seem very disorganised.

The staff have often been unable to say whether or not an application has been assessed - or even if it has been received by their office.

The charities - some of which are in urgent need of money - do not know where they stand or when they are likely to hear from the board.

"We have applied for help to establish a day centre in Inanda," said the head of fund raising for Durban's Highway Hospice, Barbara Gourlay.

"I have phoned the National Lottery many times, but I have been unable to find out anything about the application."

Two applications for help have been made to the board by The Association for the Aged in Durban.

Tafta's fund-raising manager, Margie Smith, said she had applied for funds for John Dunn House for the aged in Wentworth.

"We also applied for help with the building of the Ilungelo Labadala village for the vulnerable in Inanda."

Other organisations have not applied. "We felt we were unlikely to qualify," said the head of the Durban office of the Cancer Association, Ronny Motsepe.

"And we do miss the Natal Lotto," he said.

Natal Lotto's one-time public relations officer, Peter Chamberlain, said it was clear that a void had been created in the funding of local charities. "The National Lottery should never have been started before there was a system in place to distribute the money."

The Natal Lotto was launched by Operation Jumpstart in 1992.

Jumpstart's chief executive officer, Rod Colenbrander, said the lotto's funding was now being sorely missed in the province.

Many people in the province did not realise that a relatively small percentage of the National Lottery money went to charity.

Colenbrander said 50 percent went to prize money and 20 percent to the firm operating the lottery.

The remaining 30 percent went to five "good causes": the Reconstruction and Development Programme, sports and recreation, arts and culture, welfare and a "miscellaneous" category.

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