Monday June 4, 2012 : SA PROVINCIAL GAMBLING BOARD DISMISSED
Griping and grappling in Gauteng as provincial minister flexes her muscles
The provincial gambling regulatory board in South Africa's key Gauteng province has been replaced with a temporary administrator after being dismissed by the authoritative provincial minister for Economic Development, Qedani Mahlangu.
The row started last year when the minister ordered the board to move from its offices in one of the Johannesburg suburbs to a central city building in a rationalisation exercise designed to cut the costs of provincial state agencies.
The apparently rebellious board initially ignored the directive, and was then commanded in writing to execute the minister's order. It declined, claiming that only two years before, it had moved from offices in Pretoria to its present suburban location at a cost of Rands 101 million (around GBP 8 million).
The row escalated when the board applied for a court order restricting the minister from forcing its change of location; that was rejected by the South Gauteng High Court, and the board then applied for leave to appeal, which was also rejected.
Still intent on resistance, the members of the board, who had only been in office since April 2011, then petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Finally running out of patience after months of increasingly bitter wrangling on the issue, and rising government funds spent on litigation, minister Mhlangu fired the board and has appointed lawyer Bally Chuene in its stead as temporary administrator.
The minister said that gambling was an important component in the Gauteng provincial economy, making significant contributions to the fiscus of the country's most populous and wealthy province.
In last year's report, the board showcased a 7.7 percent increase in tax collection from regulation and licensing activity to Rands 657.2 million.