10 January 2013

Swaziland: Govt Ministers Who Gamble Face Sack

Cabinet ministers, public servants and MPs who go to casinos face the sack, the Swaziland Government's official spokesperson, Percy Simelane said.

He said there was a law specifically banning public servants from gambling and if they were found in casinos they 'will face the full wrath of the law'.

The public servants are covered by the Casino Act No.53 of 1963 - a law from the days before Swaziland became independent from colonial rule.

Simelane was reacting to a claim from the Times of Swaziland newspaper that 'two cabinet ministers', a 'number of' members of the Swazi Parliament and had been spotted 'numerous times at gaming houses'. There were also 'many civil servants who are avid gamblers', it reported.

Simelane told the newspaper, they would all be fired if found gambling. He said government leaders were expected to lead by example through adhering to all the laws of the kingdom.

The Casino Act states, '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 Times reported Simelane saying, '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.'

This is the second time in a month Swaziland has been at the centre of controversy over laws dating from before independence. Before Christmas the police warned women they would be arrested if they wore mini-skirts, under a law dating from 1889.

After an international outcry, Simelane issued a statement saying that Swaziland's Constitution of 2005 overruled this law, citing a women's right to choose to wear what they wished.

Simelane might yet come unstuck on gambling. S14 of the 2005 Constitution guarantees an individual's freedom of peaceful association and movement. S20 states people cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of their social standing.

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