South African NLC set for budget review after significant hike in legal fees

South African NLC set for budget review after significant legal fees hike
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The South African National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has been warned over its legal service expenditure after spending ‘skyrocketed’ in 2021, according to GroundUp.

As revealed by the Auditor General, the South African NLC spent R78m (£3.8m) on legal fees in the 2021/22 financial year, nearly double the amount disbursed in the previous year.

“As per the analysis of the financial expenditure for the NLC, we noted that legal fees increased by R37m (£1.8m), which represents a 91% increase from the prior year,” noted the Auditor General.

Based on a sample of legal fees paid out by the NLC, the Auditor General found that 37% of these fees were for ‘disciplinary hearings’ and ‘CCMA cases’.

The next highest category – 30% – was for ‘legal opinion on corporate governance and review of regulation’.

The South African NLC and its members have been embroiled in numerous controversies and legal battles in recent years, including a failed dispute with Ebrahim Patel. R720,000 (£34,601.45) was spent on a legal battle with the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, while another R5.7m (£274,290.10) was shelled out on one with former employee Mzukisi Makatse.

In fact, it was Patel who recently asked the South African NLC for details of expenses incurred for litigation or legal advice involving himself or any politician, media house or journalist, and the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF).

Patel made it clear that he was not satisfied with the South African NLC’s response to his request for information, and said he had requested additional details about “specific matters covered in legal briefs.”

He said he had asked the NLC to furnish details of “the total legal and consultancy costs of the various matters involving the Ministry”.

“The new board is currently reviewing the legal costs of the NLC,” said Patel. “I will request the board to consider that the review should cover whether legal costs are justified; and to adjust future NLC budgets based on the outcome of the review.”