BY MOSES MATENGA
DAGGERS are out against secretary for the Lotteries and Gambling Board, Heavens Gonga, with bookmakers accusing him of corruptly and unilaterally running the affairs of the board.
Gonga, who has been at the helm of the board for over 15 years, is accused of acting as a “sole authority” of the board and individually deciding everything in the multi-billion-dollar industry.
ln a letter to board chairperson Euginia Chidhakwa, which was copied to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, permanent secretary Aaron Nhepera and other senior officials in the Tourism and Home Affairs ministries, chairperson of the Mashonaland Bookmakers Association Ronald Ndoro, writing on behalf of disgruntled operators, accused Gonga of misleading the board and the minister.
He also accused Gonga of usurping the board’s powers to grant, deny or terminate licences.
Gonga yesterday said he was unaware of the letter and, therefore, could not comment on grievances raised.
“I am not aware of the letter and, therefore, cannot comment on issues you say are raised against me,” he said.
The letter read in part: “We write as members of the Mashonaland and Matabeleland Bookmakers Associations to lay out the grievances of our members with regards to our treatment by the secretary to the Lotteries and Gambling Board Mr H Gonga.”
The Lotteries and Gambling Board is the country’s regulatory body responsible for controlling and monitoring operations of the gambling industry through the Lotteries and Gaming Act, which came into operation in 2000.
The board also issues licences to gaming operators and comprises a chairman and seven members appointed by the Home Affairs minister.
But Gonga is accused of sidelining the board and making unilateral decisions.
“Our first concern is that it has become apparent that in the last five years, Gonga has directed the operations of the board not as the humble servant of the minister that he purports to be, (but) as the self-appointed sole authority for all matters pertaining to lotteries and gaming in Zimbabwe.
“He has achieved this objective by deliberately misleading the minister and the board by filtering information which reaches the board by misrepresentation, suppression and omission of issues concerning the stakeholders that he is tasked to oversee.”
The letter outlines several complaints from stakeholders who feel Gonga is usurping and abusing power while ignoring the authority of the board.
“The Mashonaland and Matabeleland Bookmakers Association seek the intervention of responsible authorities to review the actions of Gonga and, thereafter, take whatever corrective action is necessary to restore the Lotteries and Gaming Board to being a regulator that oversees an enabling environment for its stakeholders while protecting the interests of Zimbabwean citizens.
“He is not a board member, he is not a chief executive in terms of the law and he does not have the power or authority to issue, grant, and transfer or terminate licences.”
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