In our view

Failure of lotteries board is also fault of Minister Davies - 25 Jan 2012 BUSINESS REPORT (Pretoria News)

By Shelagh Gastrow

Today’s planned march by non-profit organisations (NGOs) against the National Lotteries Board (NLB) shows the growing national anger over the way the board distributes our public funds.

The charities planning to march to the NLB’s offices in Pretoria are quite right to be furious over the epic failure of the board to fulfil its stated mandate to distribute funds to NGOs that make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially the most vulnerable.

When charity should not begin at home - CITY PRESS, Voices 11 Dec 2011

By Shelagh Gastrow

Parliament needs to do more than just raise an eyebrow over the shameful antics of the National Lotteries Board and the way it is doling out our public funds. In the past few weeks alone, we have heard about a R51-million grant given to an organisation called Makhaya, an events management company that operates mainly in Eastern Europe. Half of Makhaya's staff live in Serbia and its fundraiser just happens to be the daughter of the chairperson of the National Lotteries Board. And if that doesn't start your alarm bells ringing, how about the R58-million grant given to an organisation called Impucuzeko to make a film called Iquili, rather aptly meaning "The Conman" when translated.

As City Press pointed out in its investigation, Impucuzeko doesn't have a website so we can't easily establish if it is a non-profit or has a voluntary board, or who works for the organisation. The company allegedly provides training and development in music, business and filmmaking, but its Facebook page hardly inspires confidence that it can handle R58 million worth of public money.

More measured - 17 Nov 2011 - Financial Mail

The recession has taken its toll on local non profit organisations but it has not necessarily led to a drop-off in companies supporting them.

In fact, by some measures SA businesses are increasing the amount they give to charities. If you ask a company how much it spends on corporate social investment (CSI), you will generally see a figure that continues to grow at an accelerated rate, says Nick Rockey, MD of Trialogue, a CSI consultancy which publishes the annual CSI Handbook.

The previous handbook shows SA companies spent R5,4bn on CSI in 2009/2010, up from R5,1bn the preceding year.

Rockey does not want to give details ahead of the latest handbook in a few weeks, but says companies are doing a better job of measuring what they contribute. This is in large part as a result of government’s empowerment codes, which create an incentive for businesses to keep track of their charitable activity.

This need to track what they contribute has meant non profit organisations have had to up their game when it comes to corporate governance, says Inyathelo executive director Shelagh Gastrow. Gastrow says businesses are no longer prepared to just give money and walk away. They want the recipients to produce a measurable outcome, which they can report to their stakeholders.

This need for a measurable outcome, however, is narrowing the types of non profit organisations and projects companies are interested in funding, and has led to organisations that support job creation and education receiving funding ahead of those that look at defending democracy and promoting the arts.


Businesses pretending not to make profits are guilty of a moral offence - CAPE TIMES 15 Nov 2011

By Shelagh Gastrow.

IT EMERGED over the weekend that a R41 million Lotto grant was given to a non-profit arts and culture organisation that employs the daughter of Professor Alfred Nevhutanda, chairman of the National Lotteries Board. The massive award to Makhaya, which promotes South African arts and culture overseas, has prompted some uncomfortable questions for Nevhutanda, a prominent Limpopo ANC member. He apparently left the lottery's distribution agency for arts, culture and heritage to become board chairman just a month before the award was made, and only weeks before his daughter was hired as a fundraiser at Makhaya.

Poor odds for NGOs in lottery board gamble - 24 Oct 2011 - Business Day

By Shelagh Gastrow

A RECENT Supreme Court of Appeal decision supports my belief that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the way the National Lotteries Board manages and distributes billions of rands worth of public funds. There is a distinct lack of accountability and transparency over the way the board operates and it needs to be called to account for its failure to fulfil the mandate it was given to distribute funds appropriately to nonprofit organisations and charities.

The appeal court case a couple of weeks ago concerned two charities that had their grant applications turned down for allegedly failing to comply with the guidelines. Fortunately, the court dismissed the appeal by the board and ruled in favour of the registered nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) — the South African Education and Environment Project and the Claremont Methodist Church Social Impact Ministry, Sikhula Sonke — which between them educate thousands of underprivileged children. 

The court held that the board was not justified in applying its guidelines so rigidly and unreasonably. What I find so highly objectionable about this case is that worthy organisations such as these are denied funding while the board sits on millions of rand of undistributed funds. The random decision-making, poor management and inefficient administration of the board are having a devastating effect on many wonderful NGOs in SA that provide essential services to poor and vulnerable communities.