NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – National Assembly Minority Leader Francis Nyenze was forced to beat a hasty retreat in his opposition to the formation of a 14-member Select Committee to inquire into the activities of the multi-billion shilling betting and gambling industry in Kenya.
This is after he came under fire from Majority Leader Aden Duale after he denounced the Motion which had been prioritised for debate. The Motion was sponsored by his own minority coalition.
Nyenze claimed that the Motion which had been moved earlier by his Deputy Jakoyo Midiwo was not sponsored by the coalition as had been indicated by the Speaker and on the Order Paper.
He told the House that he had not signed it and therefore as the coalition leader in the House, it did not have his consent. He even insinuated that the House Business Committee had worked to keep him in the dark about the Motion.
This prompted Duale to stand on a Point of Order, on which he took him to task over his long absence in the House Business Committee which approved and slotted the Motion for debate.
House Speaker Justin Muturi advised the Minority Leader to withdraw the motion if he was not consulted.
At this point, Nyenze changed tune and instead called for the reconstitution of the Select Committee saying Duale and Midiwo as part of the House leadership should be part of the team.
The Speaker also questioned Nyenze’s statement and asked him to clarify whether his deputy was not allowed to append his signature or take a decision in his absence.
Muturi said that clarification would guide future transactions between the HBC and Midiwo when it comes to casting votes as the second in command in the Opposition coalition.
When he took to the microphone, Nyenze stated that he had a change of heart in the matter after consulting his deputy who was now sitting beside him.
Midiwo on his part said he should not be criticized for trying to set up a regulatory framework that seeks to bring order in the betting and gambling industry in Kenya.
Meanwhile the National Assembly gave the special committee 60 days to inquire into the activities of the multi-billion shilling betting and gambling industry in Kenya.
Midiwo and Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga said betting and gaming activities are regulated in the same manner as insurance, banking and other financial services with regards to disclosure of information, conflict of interest, enforcement of age limits of participants, audit, reporting, licensing and taxation.
Duale and Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu on their part argued that the government has a role in strengthening the licensing and collection of tax revenue from the industry while ensuring its sustainability.
Speaker Muturi clarified that the Select Committee will not be encroaching on the functions of the four House Departmental Committees which are mandated by the Standing Orders to regulate betting and gambling activities.
He said the 14-member committee will focus its inquiry on tax compliance, claims of financial impropriety, regulation and benefits of the industry to society and the State.
MPs said the services of betting companies like SportPesa, Elibet, Betway, BetIn Kenya and mCheza, among many others, are now easily available via online and mobile platforms despite the industry facing a number of challenges including insufficient regulatory and institutional frameworks.