In October 2020 Corruption Watch wrote to trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, and Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, regarding appointments to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board when these were due to take place. We based our correspondence on previous experience in campaigning around the appointment processes of leaders of institutions in the criminal justice system, boards of directors of state-owned enterprises, and institutions established under Chapter 9 of the Constitution.
Our objectives in such matters, always, are to advocate for candidates to be appointed in a transparent manner, and to ensure that they are assessed against clear, merit-based, and objective criteria.
We expressed our concern at ongoing allegations of opacity, nepotism, misuse of funds, and corruption, and welcomed investigations into these matters. We urged caution and thoroughness in choosing new NLC board members, adding that an important part of combating corruption is ensuring ethical, qualified leadership and oversight. We also made certain recommendations to the portfolio committee regarding aspects of the appointment process, especially in terms of transparency.
Now, as GroundUp reports, Patel is planning to remove the current NLC board, saying it “failed to ensure proper administration and good governance”.
The time for putting our recommendations into practice has come.
Trade and Industry minister Ebrahim Patel has told Parliament that he has instructed lawyers to end the terms of the remaining members of the scandal-ridden National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board.
The term of the current board is due to end on 31 March and it is unclear whether Patel intends to remove the remaining members before then. Nominations and applications for new board members closed on Monday.
But with just over three weeks to go before the end of the month it appears unlikely that new board members, who must still be interviewed and then undergo security and other checks, will be in place by then.
Patel was responding to a call during the sitting by Judy Hermans, the chairperson of Parliament’s Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee, for “the disbandment of the National Lottery Commission Board with immediate effect”.
Addressing an in-person session of the National Assembly remotely — see from 3.00 minutes — Patel said the NLC had “failed to ensure proper administration and good governance, particularly in respect of proactive funding of beneficiary organisations”.
Quoting a judge in a recent Gauteng action brought against him by the NLC, Patel described the commission as an “institution that refuses to account for its actions”.
The current board of the NLC is down to three members and is no longer quorate. This follows the death of one of its members, Muthuhadini Madzivhandila, last month and the resignation late last year of Advocate William Huma after he was confronted with evidence of alleged corruption on his part.
The board has also been without a full-time chairperson since the controversial term of Alfred Nevhutanda ended in November 2020. The stalled process to elect a new chair is now back on Parliament’s agenda after falling far down the Order List. It is expected to be debated in the House soon.
Madzivhandila, Terry Tselane, the former deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, and Barney Pityana, a human rights lawyer and cleric, made the shortlist.
It seems likely that following Madzivhandila’s death only Tselane and Pityana will be put forward as candidates for the job.
Once MPs have debated the proposed shortlist it will then be forwarded to Patel to decide who will be appointed.