South Africa

GROUNDUP

Appointment process of new Lottery board chair restarts

Tebogo Sithathu, who has received millions of rands in Lottery funding, threatened Limpopo Mirror journalist Kaizer Nengovhela over an investigation into a R10-million grant. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Minister Ebrahim Patel extends tenure of acting chair despite objections.

First published in GroundUp.

The stalled process of appointing a new chair for the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has restarted, against the backdrop of a bitter behind-the-scenes battle between the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the Commission’s board.

The Trade, Industry and Competition parliamentary portfolio committee met virtually on Wednesday to finalise the procedure for the shortlisting of applicants.

The original list of 41 applicants has been reduced to 38 after former Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela and another applicant, Thabang Kekane, withdrew and the committee disqualified Somadoda Fikeni, a serving civil servant, as he did not supply proof that he had sought, and been granted, permission to apply.

The committee decided that the list of candidates to be interviewed would be pared down to six people who would be invited for formal interviews. Three candidates, Reverend Barney Pityana, former Independent Electoral Commission deputy Terry Tselane and current NLC board member Madzivhandila Muthuhadini have been nominated by more than one party.

Late last year the NLC’s board wrote to Minister Ebrahim Patel objecting to his appointment of Zandile Brown, the minister’s representative on the board, as its acting chairperson.

The four board members who signed the letter argued that the board should continue to function without a chairperson “for the time being”, and said they would elect an “ad hoc” chairperson in line with the board’s charter.

But Patel refused to back down and has extended the appointment of Brown until 31 March.

Patel and the NLC have been at loggerheads for some time over the ongoing reporting of corruption and the maladministration of Lottery grants. The minister was angered when lawyers acting for the NLC wrote to him and threatened to take him to court to force him to hand over a dossier involving a dodgy Lottery-funded project handed to the Hawks to investigate. The dossier was compiled by independent investigators appointed by Patel after several earlier probes commissioned by the NLC had cleared the organisation and members of its staff of any wrongdoing.

Since then a further five dossiers compiled by independent auditors into Lottery-funded projects have been handed to the Hawks to investigate. DM

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