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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  18 May 2012

LOTTO FUNDING: Civil Society to Have their Say Over Lottery Funds


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The Funding Practice Alliance (FPA) welcomes the National Lottery BoardÂ’s announcement that it will consult with civil society over how to spend the billions of rands of public funds it collects for good causes. This is the first time that the National Lottery Board has called for suggestions from charities, environmental, cultural, sport and recreational organisations on how the money should be distributed.

The FPA – made up of prominent civil society organisations including Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement, Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) and the Community Development Resource Association - has repeatedly called for an urgent review and overhaul of the way the National Lottery Board and its agencies manage and distribute lottery money. In March last year, the FPA released a research report on the National Lotteries and National Development Agency entitled “Meeting their Mandate‘” which questioned whether the agency was using its grant-making role in a fair and equitable manner.

National Lottery Board to Change their Inefficient Processes

Nomvula Dlamini from the Community Development Resource Association says random decision making, poor management and inefficient administration at the lottery is having a devastating impact on the work of many NGOs in the country. “One of the key problems is that the distribution agencies that make the decisions about who receives grants, don’t report directly to the National Lottery Board itself. At the moment, they are only accountable to the minister who appoints them. However, we are encouraged by recent developments within the National Lottery Board to change their inefficient processes and we hope that this will help improve the relationship between the lottery and those organisations it funds,” insists Dlamini.

Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says the National Lotteries Act also needs to be revised so that the core purpose of the lottery funds can be clarified. “We believe the Act itself is fatally flawed and unworkable as it doesn’t provide logical criteria for the distribution of funds. As far back as 2009, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies admitted to Parliament that this was a cause for concern and indicated that his department would increase its oversight of the lotteries board to improve performance. But nearly three years later, nothing has happened. In fact, the allocation of grants has become even more bizarre and questionable under his watch,” says Gastrow.

SCAT Director Anthea Davids-Thomas agrees. “Under the Act, the funding priorities of our national lottery are left to the whim of the trade and industry minister and he can change that purpose with every new regulation. For instance, current regulations indicate that 50 percent of grants must go towards advancing rural, underprivileged and poor communities. But this excludes many worthy organisations that have their headquarters in urban areas although they deliver their services in the rural areas,” explains Davids-Thomas.

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