LITTLE TRANSPARENCY IN SOUTH AFRICAN GAMBLING BOARD SUSPENSION
15th October, 2014 at 12:15:18
Government has still not given details surrounding the suspension of the South African Gambling Board last month.
Six weeks on from the shock suspension by government of the South African National Gambling Board (see previous reports), the nation is still in the dark on the detailed reasons for the drastic move.
The Board is currently under the temporary control of two government-appointed caretakers.
The government has offered no further information beyond its earlier statement that a forensic investigation was being conducted into the Board's activities, despite pressure from the official Opposition for the open publication of full details of the issue.
The Trade and Industry Department of the government is handling the matter, with all enquiries routed to it, but little in the way of useful information emerging in response.
South African operators were only made aware of the suspension a week after it had been imposed on all members of the Board.
Observers note that the disruption comes at a critical time in which positive movement towards legalised and regulated online gambling in the country is at last taking place after a decade of political procrastination
The reform bill is currently stuck in the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.
The official Opposition is becoming increasingly restive about the lack of communication from government on the NGB suspension and associated investigations.
On Tuesday this week, local media reported that a parliamentary committee had failed to extract any explanation for the temporary suspension of board members of the National Gambling Board.
The appearance before the trade and industry committee of one of the administrators appointed by Trade and Industry shed little further light on the matter, defeating the objective of the committee, which is to hold government to account for its decisions.
However the committee did identify the administrator as Tumelo Baleni, and questioned him, albeit unsuccessfully. He would say only that the Trade and Industry Minister was the sole official who could answer their questions, but did reveal that the NGB had overspent by Rands 4 million due to an over commitment on office rentals.
Parliamentary committee chair Joan Fubbs asked that the minister provide an explanation in writing by Friday ahead of his scheduled appearance before the committee early in November.
In a telephone interview from London, where he is on government business, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies revealed only that the board was temporarily suspended pending a forensic investigation into maladministration and poor governance.
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