Gidani gets green light for lottery

Empowerment consortium Gidani has been awarded the licence to operate the National Lottery, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa announced on Friday.

The minister announced his decision at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Mpahlwa suspended the National Lottery on March 31, hours before operator Uthingo’s licence to run it expired — this after the Pretoria High Court ruled that the awarding of the seven-year lottery contract to the preferred bidder at the time, Gidani, had been flawed.

Gidani said on Friday the lottery will be up and running in two weeks.

The relaunch date depends on the length of negotiations between Gidani and the National Lotteries Board. At the beginning of last month, Mpahlwa’s spokesperson Vukani Mde said indications were these negotiations “shouldn’t take more than a week”.

Asked if this meant the lottery might be up and running within a fortnight, he said: “Exactly.”

Mpahlwa has been criticised by opposition parties over the long delay in getting the lottery back on track.

At the end of August, a senior government communications official told reporters they could not ask any questions about the suspended lottery when Mpahlwa appeared at a briefing. The official said he was simply applying government press-briefing rules.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday expressed relief over the long-awaited announcement of the country’s new lottery operator.

“We hope that there will be no reason for the other contenders to institute more legal action as a result of this announcement, and that new licence holder Gidani can now go ahead with getting the Lotto back on track,” the DA’s Les Labuschagne said.

Labuschagne said the timing of the announcement on Friday afternoon “was no doubt intended to minimise the possibility of any negative media”.

There still remains some way to go to bring stability to the lottery administration regime, especially with respect to the functioning of the National Lotteries Board and the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, he added.

During the suspension of the lottery, there had been speculation that some of the rival bidders might cooperate and run the lottery jointly.

Gidani is backed by Greece’s lottery systems provider Intralot.

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