South African NLC presents recovery plan in face of corruption allegations

South African NLC presents recovery plan in face of corruption allegations
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The South African National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has announced plans to repair its diminishing reputation in the coming months and years.

As reported by Ground Up, the South African outlet which has regularly reported on allegations surrounding the organisation, there has been an admission of its inadequacies in recent history.

Ex-COO Phillemon Letwaba was at the centre of many of these stories, receiving his third suspension in July 2022 for charges of corruption.

Ex-Commissioner Thabang Mampane was also accused of embezzlement while it was reported that former Chair Alfred Nevahutanda was the beneficiary of a cash injection from contractor Neo Solutions, who the South African NLC had paid over R-26m (£1.28m), bringing into picture a potential conflict of interest.

These individuals have all left the South African NLC now, but the organisation is still mired in controversy after an investigation into historical missing lottery funds.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has launched a probe into the whereabouts of over R1.4bn in ‘dodgy’ lottery grants.

In a significant move, the new South African NLC board said it had placed a moratorium on ‘pro-active funding’, which had previously allowed the NLC, in consultation with its Board, to identify and fund projects without receiving an application for a grant.

This measure, which was introduced in a 2015 amendment to the Lotteries Act, enabled industrial-scale looting of lottery funds meant for good causes.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Trade, Industry and Competition on Tuesday, Barney Pityana, the new South African NLC Board Chairperson, admitted: “It is fair to state that the NLC finds itself at a crossroads.

“This flagship philanthropic project, that should be the pride of our country, has been buffeted by crosswinds.

“At the regulatory mandate level – the performance of the national lottery continues to excel in making deposits to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the creation of at times rags-to-riches stories, creating and developing expertise in the intricate technology and management tools necessary for the operation of a lottery.”

The NLC announced a raft of measures to deal with the organisation’s issues and prevent further corruption from taking place.

Their plan includes the establishment of an anti-fraud coordinating team consisting of the SIU, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), the re-establishment of an anti-fraud hotline, in collaboration with the DTIC Shared Services Centre, and investigations into the activities of the different regions of the NLC, which has offices in all nine provinces.