The campaign has growing support

The campaign has growing support and has achieved excellent visibility with the front page article in the Sunday Times and Carte Blanche topping the list. These contributed to a greater preparedness on the part of individuals and organisations to “take a public stand” as opposed to telling their stories “off the record”. Thanks to Susan Puren, Bongani and their team at CB as well as to Werner Swart and his editor at the Sunday Times.

During the last few weeks i have had conversations with current and ex members of the National Lottery Board and Distribution Agency (off the record of course!). The picture that emerges from the Board members is one of an entity with good intent (if learning on the job), hamstrung by deficiencies in legislation and disregard of the failures of the DA’s on the part of successive Ministers of the DTI and their senior staff. This is consistent with my experience. I have had one meeting with senior staff, who seemed positive about fixing things, but who have not come back to me as promised, and no direct communication whatsoever from the Minister. The question must be asked – Why? A speculative answer based on anecdote and many conversations is that it must suit the overseers of the fund that it remain somewhat murky at the edges.

Interestingly, it seems more and more, that the members of the Board itself are not the prime source of the problems. Directly it is the Minister through the appointment of the DA’s – which are answerable to him and not the NLB – who must take final responsibility. For the DA’s to function properly rules, oversight and systems must be strengthened. Also, and unfortunately, no matter the structure and constitution governing their work the members of the DA’s must be people of the highest moral values (and i trust most are) and no mechanism should exist where they can grant money to each other’s organisations. Unless this is so, we will continue to hear stories similar to that of Mr Semalane (DA member) and his Jazz Foundation (an events management business structured as a not for profit).

Lastly, it appears that some changes are under discussion at the NLB with respect to efficiency and the like. If these are not done with full public participation they will not deliver the transparency, efficiency and assessment practices necessary.

Please stay engaged with this campaign – it would answer their prayers if we gave up.

Best wishes.

Ralph Freese