Lotto poser for minister

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

It appears Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa will find it difficult to exclude Uthingo from any temporary arrangement for the running of the lottery.

The minister is not only faced with the problem of whether to start the process of selecting a new operator from scratch or let either Uthingo or Gidani take over the operations, he also has to consider the millions of rands that are lying in trust as a result of his temporary suspension of the Lotto.

Currently, there is about R118million of unclaimed prizes in Uthingo's, coffers plus more than R4million of the March 31 2007 jackpot prize which is still to be won.

In addition, there are scores of people who are still holding on to their tickets for playing the Lotto in advance, which they obtained before it was suspended.

The national lottery operations were temporarily suspended by Mpahlwa last month after Judge Willie Seriti of the Pretoria high court set aside the minister's decision to award the licence to Gidani.

The court ruled that Mpahlwa had not properly investigated the shareholding structures of the bidding consortiums.

This meant that the process of selecting a new operator had to start from scratch, with the applications of the four original bidders - Gidani, Igwija, Nikan'Abantu and Uthingo - having to be considered afresh.

Yesterday, Uthingo declined to comment on what the minister might do, but confirmed that they were still in talks with the department about the future of the Lotto.

Oupa Monamodi, Uthingo's chief executive, said: "I believe that, as long as Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa follows a comprehensive process, which complies with the Lotteries Act and other relevant legislation, his final decision will be in the best interests of the institution and the country."

Monamodi urged players to hold on to their tickets because they would be notified as soon as a decision was made regarding multi-draw tickets.

The Department of Trade and Industry did not respond to enquiries over the matter from Sowetan last week.