Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

National Lotteries Commission calls DA 'mischievous and malicious' in fight over who benefited from funding

By Mphathi Nxumalo And IOL Time of article published Jul 10, 2020

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Durban - The under-fire National Lotteries Commission has described as “mischievous and malicious” the decision by the Democratic Alliance to lay charges against the NLC for not discharging its duties and responsibilities according to the National Lotteries Act.

The bone of contention is the NLC’s refusal to disclose the beneficiaries of its grants to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition. In a media statement, the NLC said over the past three years it has only been a small percentage of projects that have not been managed properly. The organisation said they had started investigations into these mismanaged projects, some of which are still ongoing. 

“The DA appears to have fallen in with a false characterization by certain aggrieved civil society organizations of the NLC as corrupt. This depiction tarnishes the Commission and its hardworking members unjustly and is causing harm on the NLC, an organisation which works tirelessly to benefit South African society within the bounds of the Lotteries Act,” the NLC said.

The NLC is suing GroundUp over a series of in-depth articles by veteran journalist Raymond Joseph exposing alleged nepotism and corruption in the selection of beneficiaries for the billions of rands in funding the commission disburses. 

In its defence, the organisation said Section 67 of the Lotteries Act and Regulation 8 which protected the identity of the beneficiaries was currently being tested at the North Gauteng High Court. The court was adjudicating on matters of grant beneficiaries being intimidated, the NLC said. 

"Against this background, it comes as mischievous and malicious for the DA to institute the action they threatened in yesterday’s public statement," the NLC said.

On Wednesday, the DA's deputy spokesperson on Trade and Industry and Economic Development, Mat Cuthbert released a statement arguing that they had tried to get legal opinions through Parliament’s legal advisor which was not forthcoming. 

They were, however, able to get the legal opinion within 36 hours from a senior advocate and made a presentation to the committee this week. 

The legal opinion stated that: “It is clear that the Lotteries Act does not preclude the disclosure by the Commission to Parliament of the names of Fund beneficiaries. It is more likely than not that the Act requires it. This position is not changed by the Disclosures Act, PAIA, PAJA or regulation 8 of the distribution agency regulations... This means that if the Commission refuses to disclose the names of Fund beneficiaries to Parliament on the basis that it is prohibited from doing so, it has acted unlawfully because it has committed an error of law.”

Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee chairperson Duma Nkosi told the Daily News that there would be a presentation of the legal opinion at next week’s meeting of the committee. He said the committee would be getting a proper legal brief on the matters of the NLC and why the legal opinion took so long. Nkosi said he had hoped the matter would be on this week’s agenda but was not unable to put it in. “Everything will be explained next week,” he said.

Daily News

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