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Tata ma chance - tata ma mates

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Tata ma chance - tata ma mates

by Aly Verbaan
12 Sep 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Predicting when the national lottery will resume is turning into something of a gamble in itself. The National Intelligence Agency is apparently still involved in probing the credentials of international partners and shareholders of consortia currently bidding for the Lottery.

But Trade and Industry Minister, Mandisi Mpahlwa, has apparently decided on the new bidder, although his lips remain sealed for now.

The minister's spokesperson, Vukani Mde, told People's Post on Monday that "everything has been concluded, bar nothing".

All that remained was for Mpahlwa to make an announcement to the public informing it of his decision.

Mpahlwa suspended the Lotto on 31 March, hours before operator Uthingo's licence expired.

The suspension came after the Pretoria High Court ruled on 5 March in favour of a challenge by Uthingo, reversing the awarding of the new licence to Gidani on the grounds that the process had been flawed.

Before the ruling, Mpahlwa had said a key distinguishing factor in awarding the licence to Gidani had been the consortium's higher proposed contribution of 34% to the Lotto distribution fund for public benefit organisations.

The court found that the National Lottery Board had failed to investigate the shareholding of Gidani, the first preferred bidder, as well as the second bidder, Uthingo.

Among Gidani's shareholders are high-profile ANC members such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Max Sisulu and Chris Nissen.

Despite its initial objections to the lottery, Cosatu is one of the major shareholders in Gidani.

In terms of the Lotteries Act, individuals with links to government are precluded from having a stake in the country's lottery.

Speculation is rife that shareholders' links to government and political parties are causing the delay.

Mde agreed that there "had been issues" involving all the consortia - issues that, he said, "would have caused embarrassment to the minister and the bidders".

On 7 August, five months after the Lotto was suspended, it appeared that a breakthrough was imminent.

Mde told journalists that the name of the preferred bidder would be announced within days and that the lottery could be up and running within a fortnight.

Almost a month later, the public is still waiting.

Several of the shareholders in all four consortia, Uthingo, Gidani, Igwija and Nikan'abantu, are connected to one another through a complex network of companies.

The Department of Trade and Industry's database of companies indicates that some shareholders have links with up to 120 separate companies involved in fishing, mining, property and the health sector.

The names of several shareholders in the various consortia appear several times under different identity numbers.

Businesswoman Danisa Baloyi was the head of Igwija until she resigned after her involvement in Fidentia became known. She was also fired from the Absa board of directors. Igwija is now fronted by MTN South Africa general manager, Ashraff Paruk.

Igwija's shareholders include Greece-based gambling company Intralot, Cosatu's Kopano ke Matla Investments, Partnerships Investments and Bongani Khumalo's Gravitas. Khumalo is also chairperson of Gidani.

Among the shareholders of the fourth bidder, Nikan'abantu, is Norbert Buthelezi, the founding CEO of the National Gambling Board and a director of the Robben Island Ferry Company.

Zamile Mazantsana, another member of Nikan'abantu, is involved with Autshumato Ferries, which earlier this year was at loggerheads with the Robben Island Ferry Company over the tender to transport tourists to the island.

Business magnate Mashudo Ramano sits on several boards besides Nikan'abantu, including Africaspeaks Telecommunication, Chevron, Johnnic Communications and Portland Cement.

He also has interests in the mining industry. Gcwalisile Makhathini, the former legal head of the National Gambling Board, is another shareholder of Nikan'abantu.

But while it may still be some time before the new Lotto is up and running, the National Lotteries Board says charities that were allocated money will continue to receive funding.

Sershan Naidoo, NLB spokesperson, said there was sufficient cash to last this financial year and some of the next. Naidoo added that any claims of charity organisations suffering during the suspension of the Lotto are unfounded.

"Those who make these allegations have usually spent the money before it is allocated to them.

"Some of them have reached such a stage of dependence that their own fundraising drives are non-existent. "No-one can blame us for that."

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