MPs row over Lottery board selection

Three people shortlisted for Minister Ebrahim Patel to choose from

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A parliamentary committee convened on Friday to shortlist candidates for the National Lotteries Commission’s board’s chairperson. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • Parliament’s Trade Industry and Competition Portfolio Committee met on Friday to shortlist candidates for the chair of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
  • A row broke out over the suitability of Muthuhadini Madzivhandila.
  • The three people shortlisted for Minister Ebrahim Patel to choose from are Madzivhandila, Terry Tselane and Barney Pityana.

The inclusion of a current NLC board member on a shortlist of three candidates to fill the vacant board chairperson post led to heated debate among members of a parliamentary committee that has oversight over the Lottery.

Parliament’s Trade Industry and Competition Portfolio Committee met via Zoom on Friday to reduce a shortlist of four people down to three, following interviews earlier this week with eight shortlisted candidates.

The ANC — which has a majority on the committee — and the EFF voted for the inclusion of Muthuhadini Madzivhandila, despite strenuous opposition from some MPs.

The other two people who made the final shortlist of three are Terry Tselane, a former deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, who was nominated by all five parties on the committee, and Barney Pityana, a human rights lawyer and cleric, who was supported by four of the parties.

Both Madzivhandila and Themba Dhlamini, a former chief executive officer in the office of the Public Protector, were nominated by only two parties. This set off a vigorous debate on who should be included in the final shortlist of three.

The objections to Madzivhandila were based on the fact that he has served on the NLC’s board at a time when the organisation is engulfed in allegations of corruption and maladministration. The NLC is currently being investigated by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) and the Hawks.

Madzivhandila was appointed to the NLC’s board on 1 April 2017, meaning his tenure falls squarely within the period that the SIU is investigating.

He holds several key board positions, including chairperson of its Human Capital, Social and Ethics Committee, according to his CV on the NLC site.

Judy Hermans, the leader of the ANC on the committee, said that there were merely “allegations” against Madzivhandila and that he deserved a “chance”. Hermans also pointed out that a submission by Corruption Watch had not found anything untoward against Madzivhandila.

But DA MP Dean Macpherson cited a submission by Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) that raised several concerns over Madzivhandila’s suitability for the position of board chairperson.

“We need to apply our minds to ensure that the people we nominate are beyond reproach and impeccable in how they have conducted themselves previously,” Macpherson said. “Quite frankly we need to stop taking chances on people who ‘deserve chances’ when it never works out.

“There are very serious questions that have been raised over this gentleman. He has been on the board since it has gone into complete meltdown under an epic corruption scandal that has continued unabated.”

The shortlist of three will now be considered by Patel, who will choose one of them as the next chair. Although the tenure of the previous NLC chair ended at the end of November 2020, the process to appoint a new chair was scuttled late last year. It only restarted last month when Parliament returned from recess.

Four of five NLC board members earlier wrote to Patel to argue that the board should continue to function without a chairperson “for the time being”. They said they would elect an “ad hoc” chairperson in line with the board’s charter.

But Patel refused to back down and instead extended the tenure of Zandile Brown, his representative on the board who he had appointed as acting board chair, until 31 March “or until the appointment of a permanent chair”.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated: “Both Madzivhandila and Themba Dhlamini, a former chief executive officer in the office of the Public Protector, were nominated by only the ANC and EFF.” It is true they were only nominated by two parties, but while Madzivhandila was nominated by the ANC and EFF, Dhlamini was nominated the DA and ACDP.

TOPICS:  National Lotteries Commission

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