GROUNDUP

Patel’s spokesman dodges questions on Lottery

By Karabo Mafolo 13 November 2019

Minister Ebrahim Patel Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

GroundUp sent the Department of Trade and Industry questions on the National Lottery Commission’s sudden decision to no longer publish the names of its beneficiaries. But DTI spokesman Sidwell Medupe told GroundUp rather to focus on the Investment Summit in Johannesburg.

First published by GroundUp

About a third of money spent on Lottery tickets is supposed to go to good causes via the NLC. This year, for the first time in 18 years, the NLC decided to not publish the names of the beneficiaries of funding. In Parliament last week, NLC representatives told the trade and industry portfolio committee that they had taken this decision after complaints from beneficiaries that the publication of their names and the amounts they received led to people extorting money from them.

The decision by the NLC follows exposés of several dodgy lottery projects, some of them involving Pretoria attorney Lesley Ramulifho. The NLC falls under the Department of Trade and Industry. Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has previously asked the Commission to pursue a criminal case in connection with a controversial R27.5-million Lottery grant awarded to a company controlled by Ramulifho to construct a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria.

Following the Commission’s decision to keep its beneficiaries secret in future, GroundUp sent questions for the minister to Medupe.

Medupe told GroundUp on the phone rather to focus on more important things like the Investment Summit that was happening last week in Johannesburg. “We’re bringing investors to the country, why don’t you write about that instead?” he asked.

The following day Medupe sent GroundUp a Whatsapp message quoting religious writer Bishop Lalachan Abraham: “Character is grounded in integrity. Leaders must be honest, credible and completely trustworthy. A person with integrity doesn’t twist facts for personal advantage, is willing to stand up for what is right, keeps all promises, and can be counted on to always tell the truth. A person with integrity makes sound decisions, especially when faced with moments of indecision, temptation and conflict. Without integrity, no leader can be successful.”

Then he sent links to several articles on the Investment Summit.

Further messages via Whatsapp and SMS asking for a response to the queries sent to him were ignored. But he did send another Whatsapp message, this time quoting a Christie Hartman: “Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance.” He also sent GroundUp media statements and a 94-page document on “The politics of trade in the era of hyper-globalisation”.

On Tuesday, 12 November, Medupe had still not replied to the queries on the Lottery Commission. DM

Mafolo is a Daily Maverick intern, seconded to GroundUp.

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