DA to lay criminal charges against National Lotteries Commission after heated committee meeting

DA MP Mat Cuthbert
DA MP Mat Cuthbert
PHOTO: Jan Gerber/News24
  • The DA will lay criminal charges against the National Lotteries Commission for its refusal to release beneficiary lists amid allegations of corruption.
  • The party will also complain to the Speaker about the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry's inaction on the matter.
  • ANC MPs on Wednesday voted to postpone the matter after it had earlier defended the NLC.

The DA will be laying criminal charges against the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) for its refusal to release beneficiary lists amid allegations of corruption and will report the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Duma Nkosi, to the Speaker for his inaction in dealing with the matter.

For months, DA MP Mathew Cuthbert has tried to obtain the 2018-2019 NLC proactive-funding beneficiaries, 2019-2020 proactive-funding beneficiaries and the 2020 Covid-19 Relief Fund beneficiaries from the NLC.

The NLC refused to release the lists, claiming it would be illegal to do so, despite the fact that they have disclosed it in previous years.

On the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry's agenda for Wednesday, was an item to discuss a legal opinion on the matter, which the committee requested 28 days before.

At the start of the meeting, Nkosi suggested they remove the item from the agenda, and move it to the next meeting, as the feedback they requested was not yet available.

Cuthbert said the DA had obtained a legal opinion on the matter within a matter of days, which stated that the NLC's action was unlawful.

'You have abdicated your duties'

"We will be laying criminal charges against the NLC," he said.

He added that the DA's chief whip, Natasha Mazzone, would write to Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise to bring Nkosi's inaction to her attention, and also to complain about the time it's taking for Parliament's legal services to provide an opinion on the matter.

"It is important that we have transparency and the public know how their money is spent," Cuthbert said.

"You have abdicated your duties and you have failed the public of South Africa," he told Nkosi, adding that he had much respect for him when he was mayor of Ekurhuleni.

Nkosi said he noted Cuthbert's statement and proposed that they continue to adopt the agenda, with the item on the NLC removed.

ANC MPs supported this course of action, with the party's Tozama Mantashe adding that she was "worried when the personality of the chair is attacked".

Illegal action

DA MP Dean Macpherson moved that they add an item to the agenda – the "debacle, fiasco, and embarrassing way the committee has dealt with the NLC".

"You are aiding and abetting an illegal action," Cuthbert warned ANC MPs.

Mantashe responded: "You don't come and bully us here."

The five ANC MPs on the committee voted in favour of removing the NLC item from the committee, while Cuthbert and Macpherson and the ACDP's Wayne Thring voted against it and the EFF's Yoliswa Yako abstained.

Hence, the committee adopted the agenda and moved on with its business.

News24 reported in March, before the lockdown, how ANC MPs on the committee defended the NLC at a meeting, and joined them in attacking the media.

In February, the NLC appointed audit firm Sekela Xabiso to institute an independent investigation into allegations of improper use of funds intended for good causes.

This after a string of reports by GroundUp.

The NLC gave veteran journalist Raymond Joseph an ultimatum to stop writing stories about who it gives funding to and to remove the stories, but its COO, Phillemon Letwaba, has taken voluntary leave pending the investigation.

In May, GroundUp reported that it had obtained a leaked list of payments made from April to December 2019, and it showed the NLC paid out grants worth millions to organisations already involved in questionable, unfinished Lottery-funded projects.

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