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By News24 Wire

Wire Service


DA ups bid to see graft-accused Lotteries Commission’s list of beneficiaries

As the allegations of corruption in its payouts to beneficiaries against the NLC mounted, it has drawn a veil of secrecy over the lists of its beneficiaries.


The DA will submit an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (Paia) for the release of documents relating to alleged corruption at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

As the allegations of corruption in its payouts to beneficiaries against the NLC mounted, it has drawn a veil of secrecy over the lists of its beneficiaries.

“The DA has decided to take this course of action because the NLC and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel have denied multiple requests for this information to be made public,” DA MP Mat Cuthbert said in a statement.

The documents Cuthbert wants is the list of 2018-2019 NLC proactive-funding beneficiaries, 2019-2020 proactive-funding beneficiaries and the 2020 Covid-19 Relief Fund beneficiaries.

ALSO READ: National Lotteries Commission refuses to release list of beneficiaries

At a heated meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in March, shortly before the lockdown, Cuthbert also asked for a list of the beneficiaries.

It was reported at the time that the ANC defended the NLC at the meeting, and joined them in attacking the media.

Regarding Cuthbert’s request to see the beneficiary list, NLC chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda said it was against the law to publish the list and that they feared criminals would target the beneficiaries, to which Cuthbert responded by saying it meant they had been contravening the law for the previous four years because they had published the beneficiaries lists on their website.

Investigation

In February, the NLC appointed audit firm Sekela Xabiso to institute an independent investigation into allegations of improper use of funds intended for good causes.

This after a string of reports by GroundUp. It gave veteran journalist Raymond Joseph an ultimatum to stop writing stories about who it gives funding to and to remove the stories, and its COO, Phillemon Letwaba, has taken voluntary leave pending the investigation.

ALSO READ: Sanef ‘concerned’ by Lotteries Commission’s threats against journalists

Last month, GroundUp reported that they have obtained a leaked list of payments made from April to December 2019 and it showed the NLC paid out grants worth millions to organisations already involved in questionable, unfinished Lottery-funded projects.

In its response to GroundUp, the NLC didn’t directly respond to the allegations.

“The investigation is under way, and despite delays caused by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, investigators are continuing with the process,” read a part of the reply.

“The Board and the NLC are committed to clean corporate governance and promotion of public knowledge and awareness in respect of grants as defined in the Lotteries Act.”

After the publication of that report, an NGO whose only work seems to involve defending the NLC, the United Civil Society in Action (UCSA), has approached the court stop GroundUp and the NLC from publishing beneficiary and project names, NPO and NGO registration numbers, and the amounts and timing of grant allocations.

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