Casino industry livid over government official’s sponsored trip

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Melusi Matshiya

PLAYERS in the casino industry have accused Home Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya of compromising his position after he went on an all-expenses paid trip sponsored by two firms to inspect casino gaming machinery in South Africa, NewsDay has learnt.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR REPORTER

According to documents at hand, the trip in which Matshiya was accompanied by Lotteries Gaming Board chief executive/secretary Heavens Simbarashe Gonga was approved by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda.

The three-day trip last week was co-sponsored by Enterpro (Pvt) Limited, owned by businessman Max Tshuma, and Hotel Redcliff, reportedly owned by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife Auxilia Mnangagwa.

Informed sources argued that as regulators of the Lotteries and Gaming Board which licences casino operators, both Matshiya and Gonga were not supposed to undertake the trip sponsored by an applicant.

Tshuma owns several casinos in the country that include Regency Casino at the Rainbow Towers, Maruwati in Marondera, Kadoma Ranch, Golden Miles in Gweru, Chinotimba in Victoria Falls and Beitbridge.

The sources also said the inspection should have been carried out by punters as they were well versed with the operations of the machinery. This, the players, said was to ensure that the regulators remained objective in their duties.

By undertaking the sponsored trip, the players argued that Matshiya and Gonga would never be impartial in carrying out their duties.

But, Matshiya yesterday defended his decision to conduct the inspection saying as a regulator it was important for his ministry to familiarise with the equipment before it was imported into the country.

“It is just a matter of failure to appreciate the procedure that is taken before gaming equipment is brought into the country,” Matshiya said.

“As a regulating authority, if an operator approaches us and advises that he intend to purchase such equipment we are duty bound to go and inspect the machine before it is brought into the country. We do so in order to satisfy ourselves that the equipment which the operator intends to use is not likely going to prejudice the players and the operator himself.

“We check on the software and find out how it operates and we also check on the seals and satisfy ourselves that the machine has not been tampered with, all this is done to protect the public and ensure a fair gamming practice.”

Matshiya added the trip did not compromise his objectivity.

“If an operator wants us to inspect the equipment he/she intends to import and use locally, we advise the operator to wait for us to organise for the trip and if he/she feels we might delay in raising our [State] funds for the trip, he/she may offer to fund the trip, but we do not force them to do so,” he said.

“In this case, the operators offered to sponsor the trip but that is not what is important, what is of paramount importance is the inspection of the equipment to be used by the operators. We want people to play and win as opposed to be cheated by some equipment that may have been tampered with.”

4 COMMENTS

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  2. What is annoying no end is the spritied defence being put up by government official..Where in the public service regulations does it say officers employed by government should get payment for doing their work from those they intend to police? And to further insult people when you are found out is the stuff that hubris is made! Granted all the tears flowing down the continent are caused by a corrupt and uncaring leadership this is taking brazen disregard of citizens’ concern a tad too far. This ‘saka munondidii ‘approach perfected to a fine art by Harare Town Clerk is taking things way past a joke. Where is the shame? Or maybe vamwe zvavo havana ganda kumeso…zvino nyika yose ikashaya gandaro kumeso tingava vanhu here…???

  3. I should have thought that instead of this defensive moron, this was a typical job of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe. This body could do the testing and make recommendations to the regulator. The SAZ would continue to monitor the use of this equipment ad infinitum. Job creation for technical evaluators of these machines.

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