Absence has cost millions of rands

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

In the past three months Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa has cost the owners of small shops selling lottery tickets millions of rands.

Though the National Lottery Board (NLB) has had no revenue during that time it has still been paying charities from its reserves.

Ask Mpahlwa's department when the lottery will return and the stock answer is that they "cannot promise a return date".

On March 31, just before the lottery was suspended, vendors nationwide sold more than R26million worth of tickets.

Multiply this by the 14 weeks that the lottery has been absent, the new company that will administer the lottery and NLB could have made R300million.

A share of this income would have gone into a dedicated fund that contributes to charity.

We have considered income only from the Saturday lottery, not the smaller mid-week affair.

The government suspended the lottery after the Pretoria high court found irregularities in the winning Gidani company's bid for the new lottery licence.

The company has since gone to ground. Asked how much it had invested in new equipment and training at outlets, Thembi Tulwana of Gidaniwould only repeatedly say: "Gidani is not issuing any statement until the announcement by the trade and industry minister is made."

Mpahlwa first suspended the lottery for a month at the end of March. Then in April he announced that the lottery would return in June.

But his spokesman, Vukani Mde, said recently that the department could not promise the public a date by which the game would return.

"The minister just received a report from the NLB and he is going through that now. Once he is done with it then an announcement will be made," Mde said.

"It might be next week or next month."

Sershan Naidoo of the NLB said they had enough money in reserve to continue funding charities, so the suspension had not yet affected the needy.

"We have R2,1billion available to go to charities and we have a reserve of 2,9billion in the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund," said Naidoo.

Bobby Frisby, of Uthingo, said the previous operator was waiting for the minister to announce the new administrator of South Africa's favourite form of gambling before the company would make any comments on the lottery, past or present.

Les Labuschagne, the DA's spokesman on trade and industry, said the party had proposed that Mpahlwa's salary be reduced to 1 cent a month for the rest of the year.