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Govt to fire gambling ministers

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MBABANE – Despite Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini stating clearly a few years ago that public servants are prohibited from gambling, some of them have been found to have ignored the head of government.

The Times is aware of at least two Cabinet ministers who frequent some of the country’s casinos.

There are also a number of Members of Parliament who have also been spotted numerous times at gaming houses.

There are also many civil servants who are avid gamblers.

Responding to questions from this publication, Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, yesterday said all these civil servants would be fired if found gambling.

He quoted an almost 50-year-old law barring civil servants from gambling.

He said government leaders were expected to lead by example through adhering to all the laws of the country.

According to Section 18, Sub-section 2 of the Casino Act No.53 of 1963 that came into effect on December 28, 1963, all civil servants are banned from participating in a gaming room or casino.

Under the subject on the prohibition of gaming by certain persons; the Aact states that: "A public officer who participates in the playing of a game in a gaming room or a casino shall be guilty of an offence."

The government spokesperson likened the monitoring of government employees to motorists. He noted that very few drivers followed each other at the recommended 100 yards, but when they are caught, the law takes its course.

"No one follows civil servants around to check whether they adhere to the Casino Act or not, but if they are caught, they will face the full wrath of the law," Simelane said.

He continued: "As you might have also noted that on the country’s roads, very few drivers follow each other at the recommended 100 yards. But when an accident occurs, police officers expect drivers to have been driving 100 yards apart from the other motorist.

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"The same applies to the Casino Act; we do not follow the civil servants around to check whether they are gambling or not. But if they get caught, we definitely take action against them for breaching the Act."

When asked whether he was aware of any Cabinet ministers who gamble, he responded: "I am not aware of any politicians who gamble, but if there are any, they should stop. I am saying this because, as government leaders, they are expected to be exemplary and fully adhere to all laws of the country."

When the politicians who are known gamblers were approached for comment in light of this law, they all denied that they frequented casinos. Simelane strongly emphasised that dismissal was one of the options that could be effected on government employees who breached the Casino Act of 1963.

He said the punishment to be meted out on civil servants could only be determined by prosecuting officers after considering the extent to which the employee breached the law.

It does not explicitly state the punishment to be meted out on any public officer found guilty of committing the offence.

The Act also entrusts the owner of every casino with the responsibility of ensuring that any person aged below 21 does not enter the game room for open play.

Among other people banned by the Act are employees of the gaming room or casino.


COMMENTS:

- Is Swaziland really moving backwards, by dusting archaic laws and bringing them into effect. Just recently it was the mini skirt issue, and right now its gambling. I wouldnt be surprised if the nation would be urged to wear skins, walk barefoot, and abandon their beautiful homes in favour of behive huts.
January 9, 2013, 9:30 am, majobo

- Interesting laws from the archives - no so long long ago was the miniskirts and tops and now the gambling act. There is a real danger in this one as habitual gamblers in the process of 'burning' their own money could also stray into 'burning' public or taxpayers' money. My take is take is that we all know these errant public servants and politicians and hurling threats of dismissal is just empty threats by a government that wants to project itself to be enforcing discipline when it is NOT. t.
January 9, 2013, 9:30 am, Burns Dlamini ( Lobhoncela)

- I do not think it is fair to say Government has dusted a 50 year old Act because most of the country's legislation is over 50 year old. The statement would be understandable if the piece of legislation was a hundred years old. I believe the principle behind the legislation is still valid today especially when it comes to Senior Civil servants and politicians. With corruption levels where they are in the country a addicted gambling Senior civil servant or politician is a serious risk to indeed. I think Government should enforce this legislation ayeke kethusa nje.
January 9, 2013, 3:30 am, Gideon

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