NPOs demand audit of Lottery payments

2012-01-18 23:19

Pretoria - Non-profit organisations are demanding that grants made by the National Lotteries Board (NLB) during the past three years be subjected to a forensic audit and that board members be subjected to a lifestyle audit.

The demands are contained in a memorandum, of which Sapa has obtained a copy.

The memorandum is due to be handed to the NLB when representatives of non-profit organisations are expected to march on the NLB offices on January 27.

NLB spokesperson Sershan Naidoo confirmed that on Wednesday "we did get official notification" of the planned march.

In the memorandum the organisations ask that grants in excess of R5m be fully disclosed to the public, and that applications for grants can be submitted all year round, instead of once a year.

They call for the NLB to reduce the turnaround time for applications, including grant payments, to a maximum of 120 days.

Naidoo said: "We understand it is difficult for these charities."

He said the NLB only had R800m available for distribution to charities and that the number of charities seeking grants had risen from an average of 4 000 a year to 8 000 in 2011.

Rural areas

He said Lotto ticket sales had not kept pace with the demand from charities. Additionally, new government regulations stipulated that 50% of funding must go to charities in rural areas.

"We are there to help, but unfortunately we are not responsible for fundraising."

March organiser Sandra Millar, who also specialises in helping charities raise funds, said the frustration was not over the amount of money available, but rather over how it was distributed and, on occasion, to whom.

"It's about the abuse of power at the National Lotteries Board, the corruption, nepotism, and very questionable decisions regarding funding and the recipients."

She pointed to funding given to the National Youth Development Agency for the World Youth Festival - subsequently labelled the "kissing fest" after reports of delegates kissing, instead of doing work, were published.

A public outcry followed news that the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund had provided R40m for the festival held in December 2010 within a very short time, while many charities waited for years for significantly less money.

Events company

She said there were questions over R51m in funding for an organisation called Makhaya, "an events company which operates mainly in Eastern Europe and the fundraiser happens to be the daughter of the chairman of the NLB".

Christine Delport, the chief executive of the Greater Rustenburg Community Foundation (GRCF) said she did not believe the board had the capacity to assess applications for funding.

"They tie you down in a contract to a time frame, but they don't pay according to that time frame."

She said the GRCF had four applications pending for funding. Two of those date prior to 2010. The GRCF had only received a response to one of the applications.

Shiela Gastrow, the chief executive of non-profit organisation Inyathelo - the SA Institute for Advancement - said the problem that had raised the ire of the non-profit sector was the haphazard manner in which funds were allocated.

"There is not much logic in the way funds are made available."

She said one year a charity could receive funding, but the following year there would be none.

Merit

She also criticised some of the bigger grants made by the NLB, including the R51m to Makhaya.

In a column that appeared in the City Press newspaper last year she also questioned the R58m grant given to an organisation called Impucuzeko to make a film called Iqili, which means The Crafty One.

However, Naidoo said organisations needed to plan properly when applying for grants and that each grant was considered on its merits.

"We are open to interaction with these organisations, but each grant has to be considered case by case," he said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    nyda  |  nlb  |  lotto
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