Gaming the Lottery

NLC response to Sershan Naidoo’s allegations

Lottery fund distributor says it follows the “spirit and letter of the law”

Distributing Agencies (DAs) of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) are creatures of statute, the Lotteries Amendment Act, 2015, (“the Act”). It follows, therefore, that as is the case with all DAs, the Arts, Culture, National Heritage Distributing Agency (ACNHDA) in particular on which Mr. Sershan Naidoo sat and served since inception derive their mandate, scope, duties and responsibilities from the Act. To that end, the legitimacy and integrity of DAs as informed by the Act is beyond reproach, which is an important factor Mr. Naidoo has conveniently not challenged nor contemplated challenging.

As NLC we deem it prudent to assert and validate the process followed in appointing members of the DAs, and in this regard, narrow it down to ACNHDA members whose appointment followed a rigorous process to determine, amongst others, their probity, competency and skills through oral interviews and competency assessments. The members were drawn from and possess diverse backgrounds in the area of social sciences, cultural and natural heritage, environment, law, arts, culture to name but a few.

Until his severance from NLC through repudiation of an employment contract as the CCMA correctly found, at no stage did Mr. Naidoo report any misgivings about the integrity of the members with whom he served. Since its appointment and assumption of office on 05 December 2016 the ACNHDA of which Mr. Naidoo is one of the founding members, the functionality and adjudication of applications for funding from worthy causes, is primarily guided by the NLC Act and Terms of Reference approved by the Board. These provides for ethical and professional conduct; independence; discharging of duties and responsibilities without, fear, favour or prejudice.

In his missive, it is clear that Mr. Naidoo has not challenged the probity and competence of the ACNHDA as a collective in adjudicating and taking decisions on applications that came before them, let alone the outcome thereof. At most, what he appears to be addressing are matters outside the realm of and not within the remit of the ACNHDA as an adjudication forum in which all discussions are recorded and decisions taken during the sittings. It is common cause that neither the Board nor the Commission as an administrative body and its leadership could interfere with adjudication. At best, they ensure DAs operate within the approved legislative and policy frameworks.

We reject with contempt the posturing by Mr. Naidoo that certain applications would come with items that he mentioned and create the false impression that Members of DAs would approve funding of any items as it comes without scrutinizing the application in terms of meeting the NLC’s strategic focus areas, possible impact on the community to whom the project is meant, feasibility of implementation and availability of budget, to name but a few. It is mischievous and ignorant of Mr Naidoo not to indicate to the public that the DAs collectively use the Funding Capping Document which undergird and moderate the determination of tolerance levels for certain generic costs drivers in the diverse projects applied and coming from the different sectors be it sports and recreation, arts, culture, heritage, environment, social welfare, etc.

We contend, therefore, that as NLC it is unfathomable that as an individual he could raise different and opposing views within the adjudication sitting, be it certain line items in the application for funding with his fellow former members of ACNHDA and expect his voice to prevail over credible others who may opine differently as a majority. For it is unconventional and against good corporate governance for him to expect the substitution of the majority views in an adjudication sitting for his own. On record, Mr Naidoo had on some occasions when he differed with his fellow ACNHDA members abruptly recused himself from adjudication and threatening to go to Amabhungane. This is not uncommon since the Terms of Reference of DAs do provide for such eventualities in which case his rights not to continue with participation for one reason or another is enshrined and respected.

The issue of Pro-Active Funding raised by Mr Naidoo has been ventilated in the media spaces for too long and has now become stale as far as we are concerned. Suffice to say that, the NLC is following the spirit and letter of the law when implementing related approved NLC policies. All NLC processes in so far as projects funding since the inception of fulltime DAs is concerned have gone through and passed audit scrutiny. Should Mr Naidoo have any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever by NLC or its functionaries, he is at liberty to report such to any law enforcement agencies at his disposal and convenience.

Last but not least, it is trite that cases especially labour related, are won and lost in court and not in the media. We want to implore Mr Naidoo to exercise his rights and act within the law in asserting them and restrain himself from making unfounded and untested allegations that are potentially and in fact defamatory and damaging to the good name the NLC. It is disrespectful of him to cast aspersions on the integrity of DAs and by necessary implications, members thereof which creates an impression in the courts of public opinion that they lack probity when the opposite in fact holds true.

NLC reserves its right to seek remedy in an appropriate forum.