It has been almost a month since the Trade and Industry Committee asked for a legal opinion on whether the National Lottery Commission’s (NLC) refusal to disclose its grantee list was legitimate. At Wednesday’s committee meeting, Duma Nkosi, chairman of the committee, asked for a presentation on legal opinion to be removed from the agenda because he had not received any feedback from Parliament’s legal advisers.
In 2019, the NLC, for the first time in 18 years, failed to reveal aid recipients in its annual reports. At a committee meeting earlier this year, the chairman of the NLC, Alfred Nevhutanda, said it was in the beneficiaries’ interest not to disclose it and that this was lawful.
The NLC’s revised position on the list of beneficiaries comes shortly after journalists Raymond Joseph and GroundUp exposed the corruption and nepotism in poker88 visit lottery grants.
On Thursday 9 July, Nkosi requested that the presentation of legal opinions be removed from the agenda as he had not received any feedback from legal advisors. Nkosi said he thought he would get some feedback from Parliament’s legal advisers before Wednesday’s meeting, but that didn’t happen.
Five ANC committee members voted in favor of removing items from the agenda, while DA Mathew Cuthbert and ADCP’s Dean Macpherson and Wayne Thring voted against it. EFF’s Yolisa Yako abstained. Cuthbert insisted that “it is important that we have transparency and that people know how their money is being spent”.
Nkosi assured committee members that they will discuss legal opinion at the next committee meeting this week.
Cuthbert said the DA plans to write to the speaker of Parliament, Thandi Modise, “to investigate Mr Nkosi’s behavior, as well as the implementation of Parliament’s legal division in their failure to provide this legal opinion to ensure MPs can carry out their oversight duties”.
For months, Cuthbert has been trying to get the names of recipients of proactive 2018-2019 NLC funds, recipients of 2019-2020 proactive funds and recipients of the 2020-2020 Covid-19 Aid Funds from the NLC.
As the NLC has repeatedly refused to provide the committee with a grantee list, Cuthbert announced that the DA will file a lawsuit against the NLCs “for failing to carry out their duties and responsibilities in accordance with the National Lottery Act as well as relevant access to statutory information such as the Law Disclosure and Promotion of Access to Information Act ”.