When he tabled the National Lotteries Commission’s (NLC) beneficiaries lists, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel stated that the public has a right to know who benefits from the money that the NLC “manages on behalf of the people.” Patel’s announcement brought to an end the months-long legal battle to have corruption-accused entities’ beneficiaries made public.
Duma Nkosi, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, stated at the conclusion of the committee’s meeting on Tuesday that Patel had written to Parliament on Monday, requesting that the 2017/18 List of Funded Projects, the 2018/19 List of Funded Projects, and the Covid-19 List of Funded Projects be tabled before the committee.
Ebrahim Patel is the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Following receipt of a legal advice to that effect, the committee asked the NLC to deliver these papers at its meeting on July 16. After an emotionally charged meeting with the committee in March, members of the African National Congress (ANC) endorsed the National Leadership Council (NLC), which had declined DA MP Mat Cuthbert’s request for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 lists. Previously, the NLC disclosed the lists, but during that meeting, they stated that doing so would be against the law and refused to reveal them. This follows a spate of stories from social justice news outlet GroundUp, which detailed suspected corruption and fraud in the distribution of monies to the intended recipients.
Cuthbert responded to the news he received from Nkosi by saying:
“Once again, it seems that the NLC has no regard for this parliamentary committee, as they continually fail to fulfill deadlines and attempt to escape us by using every means at their disposal.”
Nkosi said that it had been seven working days since the meeting on the 16th of this month. Dean Macpherson, a DA member of parliament, said that the committee had directed the NLC to supply them with the lists.
“Can you tell me why it’s coming from the minister?” – he inquired.
According to the committee’s secretary, the National Labor Committee (NLC) is an organization that reports to the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition, and that the minister normally submits papers on the department’s behalf. Simanga Mbuyane of the African National Congress (ANC) said that this was how Parliament worked: the entity reports to the department, and the department reports to the committee.
To put it another way, it is how Parliament works in the ANC’s perspective.”
– Macpherson reacted, stating that entities were directly accountable to Parliament and that it was “bizarre” that the letter was routed via the minister of justice.
There is a leadership crisis.
Patel wrote the following in a letter to the House of Commons on July 27
“In accordance with Section 65 (1) (a) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No.1 of 1999), Financial Statements of Entities must be included with the Annual Reports in addition to the Annual Reports. It is customary for the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) to provide a list of projects funded by the NLC in their annual reports, and this was the case in this case. The National Library of Canada did not table the List of Projects Funded with their Financial Reports for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 fiscal years. As a result, both the Ministry and the Parliament took steps to ensure that the NLC made the List of Projects Funded available to the public. “I believe that the National Lottery Corporation’s finances must be open and transparent, and that the public has a right to know who the beneficiaries are of the funds that the NLC handles on the people’s behalf.”
Although Cuthbert had harsh words for Patel on Friday as a result of his inaction on the matter, Cuthbert said the DA welcomed Patel’s recognition that the NLC must be open and transparent, and that the public had a right to know who was benefiting from the NLC in a statement released after Tuesday’s meeting.
In the absence of the DA’s aggressive action in Parliament and the media’s attempts to bring attention to the deteriorating state of things at the NLC, this may not have come to fruition.
He said that they will examine the beneficiary lists over the following few days to guarantee that no beneficiaries – or the sums distributed to them – had been deleted or omitted in any manner during the audit.
“The DA continues to be adamant in its conviction that the NLC has committed a crime by withholding this information from the public for such an extended period of time,” said Cuthbert, who has filed criminal charges against the National Lottery Corporation.
“The NLC’s actions in this situation has only served to cement the notion that the organization is suffering from a leadership crisis.”