South Africa: Lotteries Commission Drags Minister to Court

The National Lotteries Commission in South Africa has dragged the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel to court seeking to force him to appoint a new board or extend the current one which expires on March 21. This new round of litigation against Minister Ebrahim Patel comes after widespread speculation that he would disband the board, having accused it of failing to ensure proper administration and good governance, particularly in respect of proactive funding of beneficiary organisations.

The National Lottery Commission has recently been mired in controversy ranging from mismanagement, funding and flow of funds to NLC officials, board members, and their family members. This current board became no longer quorate following last year’s resignation of William Huma who was accused of corruption siphoning the commission’s funds to build a five million rand luxury home. Fellow board member Muthuhadini Madzivhandila also passed away in February. Minister Patel told Parliament last month that he had instructed lawyers to end the tenure of the remaining members of the NLC board.

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In another current court action, the NLC has petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal a High Court ruling confirming Patel’s power to investigate corruption involving the Commission.

NLC Commissioner Thabang Mampane argues in an affidavit to the court that Patel’s failure to appoint a new board would adversely affect the commission’s ability to operate and distribute funds. “While the board may assign management or other functions, or delegate its powers or functions to the Commissioner or the Commission, ultimate responsibility remains with the board for the exercise of any such functions. However, if the board is non-existent, no delegations or assignments of such functions can be either made or supervised.”

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She added: “It will paralyse the entire Lotteries Act and deprive good causes of distributions of funds on which they depend”.

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