MZILIKAZI WA AFRIKA
Johannesburg - Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has come under fire from One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane following the new National Lotteries Board appointments.
Maimane claims Patel "unilaterally" appointed the new board so that it would fast-track the new lottery licence to his preferred bidder, as well as channel funds to the next ANC elective conference.
Maimane has applied in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to challenge the “irregular appointment of the new lotteries board” Patel announced on March 24.
Maimane said that, when Patel appointed former director-general in the presidency Dr Cassius Lubisi and former head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit Willie Hofmeyer and others to the board, he did not follow the Lotteries Act, which specifies that "the minister (must) publish and call for nominations“.
It is alleged Patel personally called the new members and offered them a seat on the board without advertising, interviewing and shortlisting anyone, as prescribed by the Lotteries Act.
Patel this week failed to confirm or deny these allegations to The Sunday Independent. His spokesperson, Bongani Lukhele, failed to answer specific questions sent to the department.
"The minister is satisfied that the appointment of these members is in full compliance with the requirements of the Lotteries Act, and that the composition of the board satisfies the statutory prescripts,“ Lukhele said.
However, he failed to indicate when the department published the advertisement for the appointment of the new board members and how many people applied and were interviewed and shortlisted for such positions.
"The members are all competent and highly experienced individuals of proven integrity who collectively and individually have the skills and knowledge to perform the board's functions," Lukhele added.
But Maimane said this board appointment had to be stopped at all costs, as it marked the start of a new wave of state capture.
"It is our informed view that the process of the appointment of this board must be challenged, given the urgency of the multibillion-rand licence renewal next year.
“Maybe it is a coincidence that these appointments and the licence renewal coincide with the forthcoming ANC elective conference. We all know what happened during the CR17 campaign, when President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the leader of the ANC," Maimane said.
The new board has been appointed for 12 months. The current lottery licence holder, Ithuba, has alleged in court documents that Patel is trying to frustrate them and force them out in favour of his preferred bidder, one of the funders of the CR17 campaign.
In January, The Sunday Independent reported how the lucrative National Lotteries Commission tender worth R180 billion had been pushed back numerous times, as Patel did not want it advertised during the tenure of the old board, which he was allegedly not seeing eye to eye with.
According to insiders, the problem was that Patel wanted the contract to go to a company with close ties to him, Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited.
The company is led by Yunis Shaik and John Copelyn, who pumped money into Ramaphosa's 2017 Nasrec campaign.
In January, the company’s CEO, John Copelyn, confirmed the company was "contemplating making such a bid once we have seen the conditions for any such tender". And he believed the bid process would be based entirely on the weightings of its formal adjudication once the board is seized with the matter.
However, he refuted that the minister or his department was doing them any favours.
"We do not feel such interest by us is improper, and should we ultimately submit such a bid, we shall ensure it will seek to persuade an unbiased adjudicator to choose it as a winning bid on its merits," he said.
Ithuba’s CEO, Chairmaine Mabuza, could not be reached for comment.