Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said Friday that the government will not relax the betting laws that led to the exodus of several gambling companies from the country.
Dr Matiang’i weighed in on the raging debate on betting and gambling, saying the laws put in place to stop the vices will be enforced.
The minister, who chairs the National Development Implementation Communication Cabinet Committee with four other Cabinet Secretaries and a host of Principal Secretaries, spoke during a meeting with leaders from Murang’a County at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
Dr Matiang’i said he has been receiving calls from religious leaders and many other Kenyans expressing fears that gambling will return with the relaxation of the laws.
“We are not going back on that policy because we want sanity in Kenya. Betting almost destroyed our country. Criminals and money launderers thrived. Some came from as far as eastern Europe and did what they would not attempt in their countries,” Dr Matiang’i told the meeting.
“Our President has been firm. He has expressed himself publicly and led by example as is expected. We are not going back on anything.”
The minister added that the government respects the National Assembly’s decision on the matter.
Dr Matiang’i said no betting licences have been issued for this financial year because “we have been waiting for approvals from the Ministry of Health due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“We are going to be strict with licensing because that is where the challenge was in the past,” the CS said.
Dr Matiang’i further said the government will soon begin a second crackdown on illicit drugs and liquor in Murang’a and Kiambu counties.
“The two regions have been badly affected by the alcohol and drugs menace. The crackdown will be tougher than the first one,” Dr Matiang’i told the meeting.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria said the meeting was part of coordinated programmes with the national government to avoid a fragmented approach to development matters.
“We need a better-coordinated approach between the two levels of government. We discussed agriculture, coronavirus, water, roads, health and other issues that are of interest, with emphasis on Kenneth Matiba Hospital,” the governor said.
Dr Matiang’i said coordinated approaches and consultations have speeded up development across the country.
“We will soon publish our successes through this committee,” he said.
The CS added that the team was sent by President Uhuru Kenyatta to assess government projects.
“The President sent us to ensure we are in tandem with the people of Murang’a in speeding up activities, including those he personally pledged,” he told reporters after the function.
“A lot of work is being done but we have also been challenged to ensure projects are fast-tracked. We have made commitments. The President's Delivery Unit’s secretary is here."
Others at the meeting were Cabinet Secretaries George Magoha (Education), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Charles Keter (Energy) and James Macharia (Transport), Senator Irungu Kang’ata who is also the Senate majority whip.