By Francois Rodgers, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:
The DA welcomes the appointment of the new KZN Gaming and Betting Board by provincial Finance MEC, Belinda Scott and trusts that, unlike its predecessor, the latest Board will operate within its mandate and relevant legislation.
We note with concern, however, a media comment by the new Board chair, Advocate S Khuzwayo, in which he says he knows nothing about betting and gambling. This is in direct contravention of an earlier statement made by MEC Scott in which she stated that the appointment of the new Board was a difficult process as she wanted to find individuals who had an understanding of the industry.
Last year the DA discovered that the former Board had been granting licences without the necessary legislative mandate. We then requested a special meeting of the Finance Portfolio where the MEC admitted that EBT licences had been issued by the Board with scant regard to legislation.
At the time, the DA welcomed the MEC’s decision not to renew the Board’s contract and to further investigate the issue of the contentious EBT licences, particularly as some of them had been issued in shopping centres and in malls.
At a recent KZN Finance portfolio committee meeting, the MEC gave the DA an assurance that gaming and betting would be dealt with in a sensitive manner and that it would not be entertained in shopping centres and malls.
This is a victory on behalf of those communities which are already dealing with the negative social impact and financial stress that gambling can bring.
It is the duty of KZN lawmakers to ensure the protection of vulnerable communities. The DA will continue its role of oversight in this regard and urges members of the public to attend two public hearings on the KZN Gaming and Betting Bill scheduled for July.
We are also committed to monitoring the case against the previous Board to ensure that justice prevails and that there are personal repercussions for the Board’s alleged failure to issue ‘legal’ gaming licences. We will also ensure that where such licences were issued they are revoked and removed from shopping centres and malls.
The DA will never allow the selective implementation of legislation when it comes to gambling. To do so is to undermine the very fabric of our democracy and the constitution of our country.