South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, has appointed Zandile Brown on the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board as acting chairperson, but the appointment of a permanent chair has been delayed by three more months.

The appointment of Brown as acting board chairperson was conveyed to NLC staff in a memo from NLC Commissioner Tabang Mampane after Alfred Nevutanda’s tenure ended on the last day of November.

A new board chairperson was due to be appointed on Tuesday, the day after Nevutanda’s term ended. The minister had appointed an independent committee headed by Judge Dennis Davis that shortlisted three names for the role.

However, the process was stopped after a legal opinion by Parliament’s legal office found that the shortlisting process was the role of the Trade and Industry Parliamentary Portfolio committee (TI PPC), and not the Minister.

According to Ground Up, Democratic Alliance MP Dean Macpherson objected to Brown’s appointment during a virtual meeting of the TI PPC. He stated that she served on the NLC’s board during a time when it has been engulfed by allegations of corruption, provoking an angry response from ANC MPs.

Macpherson said: “The committee should express its disappointment at the appointment of someone with serious question marks over their head.” He claimed that she was ‘complicit’ for not speaking out against NLC corruption while serving as a board member.

Earlier this year, the DA laid a criminal complaint against the NLC board which, they alleged, had acted ‘unlawfully’ by not releasing the list of its beneficiaries for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 financial years, as well as their Covid-19 Relief Fund beneficiaries. This complaint is currently under investigation, according to police minister Bheki Cele.

ANC MP Tozama Mantashe dismissed Macpherson’s complaint about Brown, saying: “I don’t know what the hullabaloo is all about … we support the minister’s choice.”

With Parliament now going into constituency work and annual leave recess, a new shortlisting process will only be completed by March 2021 at the earliest, according to a timetable presented to MPs. Only once MPs return to Parliament on January 26 will the new process begin.

Both the two Democratic Alliance and the single FF+ members pushed for the committee to work through December to complete the chairperson selection process, but the ANC voted against the proposal, while the EFF and ACDP representatives abstained.

Earlier this week, the NLC stated it would be investigating an unusual national lottery draw which resulted in 20 jackpot winners.