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National Lottery delayed as bidders fight in court

Negotiations for the signing of a contract between the Gambling Authority and Growminds Africa (PTY) LTD to kick off the National Lottery may take a bit longer than expected as one of the bidders is challenging the bidding process in court.

Etuba Solutions (PTY) LTD has approached the Court of Appeal urgently challenging a decision by High Court judge, Justice Omphemetse Motumise’s not to grant them an Interim Interdict Order to halt the process and signing of the Contract citing irregularities.

The company says the process did not follow the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act and that it was shrouded in secrecy.

Other Respondents are Gambling Authority, PPADB, and the two other bidders who were not part of this week’s arguments.

The company has a main case in which it wants the court to review and set aside a Gambling Authority’s decision to nominate Growminds Africa (PTY) LTD as the preferred bidder.

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Etuba is not happy with the slow progress of the case hence seeking the interim interdict.

Advocate Rafik Bhana, representing Etuba Solutions argued that they were told that the negotiations would take place between August and October 2020, but it was only in February this year that the negotiations started.

He said the Gambling Authority has no authority to negotiate since that mandate lies with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board.

He said they have tried every trick to have the Gambling Authority to present documentation and records of the proceedings but in vain, hence they were not able to present their grievances in court on time.

“We are not looking for commercially sensitive information from the parties, we just want to know how far and when the negotiations will be completed,” argued Bhana.

The case was held virtually.

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On the other hand, the Gambling Authority argues that the company wrongfully treats the issuance of a Gambling Licence like a contract of infrastructure development where public funds are used for the project.

It accused Etuba Solutions of sleeping on their right to challenge the process until last minute saying the appeal is just a tactic to delay the issuance of the licence to the preferred bidder.

It also argues that there is no law that compels them to disclose sensitive information to the competing bidder as it demands, adding that Etuba Solutions should wait for the outcome of its main application.

“We cannot disclose information on the timeline of our negotiations, or what has been agreed since terms can change anytime,” argued Advocate Schalk Burger.

Through Advocate Ana Milo-Bitter the PPADB says the previous cases cited by the applicant are a clear demonstration of its poor understanding of what the process of issuance of a gambling licence entails, adding that the application does not meet the requirements of the Court of Appeal rules.

The Respondents called for the dismissal of the application with costs, saying the application is not necessary since Etuba Solutions has not demonstrated enthusiasm to expedite the main case.

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However, buttressing their earlier argument Adv Michael Dafel said the matter was urgent in that some of the pronouncements made by Justice Motumise had a bearing on the main case before the High Court.

Negotiations between the Gambling Authority and Growminds Africa are expected to be completed end of this month.

The Voice is reliably informed that bidding for a National Lottery an entity is expected to pop out a non-refundable P1million.

Judgment was postponed to next week.

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