National Lottery Commission: Patel accused of abusing power
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Johannesburg - The Independent Liberation and Allied Workers Union (Ilawu), the union which saw Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital chief executive Ruth Mabyana placed on precautionary transfer after protesting for her removal after a case of misconduct, has turned its attention to Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel.
Claiming to have seen leaked messages from Patel’s communication with one of the candidates for the position of the National Lottery Commission’s chairperson, the union is accusing Patel of abusing his position and working towards personally selecting a board chairperson.
The board is chaired by Professor Alfred Nevhutanda.
Things are said to be strained between Patel and Nevhutanda, with Patel aiming for Nevhutanda’s exit. According to a source at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the three candidates preferred by Patel are linked to business giant HCI (Hosken Consolidated Investments).
“We are concerned that Minister Patel wants to appoint a board chairperson close to himself. That is corrupt in nature. The appointment of any board must follow due process. The board member must naturally not be a friend or a business partner of the minister overseeing that agency. Minister Patel must be thoroughly investigated and board interviews and appointments must be halted until parliament and the chapter 9 institutions have been satisfied,” said Ilawu secretary general Siphamandla Masimula.
Patel is also accused of fast-tracking the process to appoint a new chair for the National Lotteries Commission board as he has a preferred candidate.
In a complaint seen by The Star, Ilawu has written to the chair of the portfolio committee on trade, industry and competition, Duma Nkosi, and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claiming to have evidence that Patel “has relationship with the candidates he has not declared”.
Ilawu is also accusing Patel of undue influence in the NLC to profit white NGOs over black NGOs.
“The matter of race comes in here. “The problem is that some politicians don’t want black NGOs to be strong because it infringes on their political intentions. It’s true that this attempt to capture the board is purely for the funding of right-wing organisations,” Masimula said.
After numerous attempts to get hold of Nevhutanda, the chairperson denied any knowledge of a strained relationship with Patel, saying: “I don’t know of that, you may ask the minister.”
The minister did not respond to phone calls on Thursday night.