Lotto to honour R20m grant

2012-02-09 22:46

Pretoria - The National Lotteries Board has agreed to honour a R20.4m grant it had previously withdrawn, less than a week after court papers were filed with the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

According to a press statement released by law firm Adams and Adams on Thursday, the NLB "acted swiftly in responding to proceedings instituted by NGO Molteno Language and Literacy Institute".

Molteno had its grant withdrawn last year, barely a month after it was awarded. On Tuesday, it announced it had instituted legal action against the NLB, asking the High Court in Pretoria to force the NLB to honour the R20.4m grant.

In an affidavit submitted to the court, Molteno's chief executive Masennya Dikotla claims it was awarded the grant on June 10. The money was for a project that would have resulted in the provision of 500 mobile libraries with 250 000 books to areas that did not have libraries.

However, the term of office of the distributing agency which approved the grant ended on July 9.

Interim distributing agency

Dikotla said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies authorised NLB members to act as an interim distributing agency while a new one was found.

Molteno was informed its grant had been withdrawn because "due to the current budget constraints of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), projects of this magnitude and extent cannot be funded".

He said requests for information made in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act had been ignored.

Documents Molteno submitted to the court show the NLDTF had more than R2bn at the end of March 2011 which had not been distributed.

Molteno's lawyer Jac Marais said according to the National Lotteries Act, Davies could reverse grants made only in exceptional circumstances, such as illegal activities being carried out.

In Molteno's case, those circumstances did not apply.

'Swift action'

According to the statement released on Thursday, Dikotla said he was grateful to the NLB for its "swift action".

"We are hugely grateful that our initiatives will now go ahead as planned. Hundreds of children rely on the institute to learn the skills that will enable them to take up their rightful place in the world," he said.

Comment from the NLB could not be immediately obtained.

According to the Adams and Adams statement NLB chair Professor Alfred Nevhutanda had said the NLB was "in a state of transformation", and that the NLB is "currently addressing historical administrative issues with a view to avoid unnecessary litigation".

It was not clear whether other grants withdrawn while the NLB acted as an interim distributing agency would also be reinstated.

The Star newspaper reported on Tuesday that the African Conservation Trust had its R16.9m grant withdrawn during the same period.

Last month, 400 members of various non-profit organisations staged a protest outside the NLB's offices demanding a forensic audit, and that board members be subjected to a lifestyle audit.

Read more on:    nlb  |  lotto

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