I lost my job (#ILostMyJob) and 2022 general elections

Days after announcing that it had closed shop in Kenya, SportPesa CEO Ronald Kirui announced to his 400 employees that all of them have been fired. “You are all fired”, his message can be condensed to that. Following the announcement, Kenyans have taken to Twitter to complain about job losses in the country under the hashtags #IlostMyJob and #SaveMyjob. The discussions on the two hashtags have however turned out to be about not electing Deputy President William Ruto as Kenya’s next president in 2022.

The reason the discussions on the two hashtags have turned to be about the 2022 general elections is because many believe the woes of SportPesa and Betin are because Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have run down the economy, hence the inability for SportPesa to thrive. You’d easily see that this is the reasoning when you come across tweets like this:

The other error made by those discussing the loss of jobs occasioned by SportPesa closing shop is the belief that the government has been interested in ending the betting culture due to its addictive nature. This belief has however been debunked several times through the simple statement, “if the government wants to end the betting culture, why hasn’t it declared betting illegal? On the contrary several betting firms were given the green light to continue betting”.

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What such tweets fail to recognise is that SportPesa did not close shop because they were making loses. Far from it. Actually it can be reasoned that since Jubilee took office and promoted lottery as a main industry, the betting industry has been the most lucrative. Sitting comfortably on top of this industry has been SportPesa followed closely by Betin. The two leading betting firms however found themselves at loggerheads with the government when the government accused them of not complying with all betting regulations, including tax regulations. SportPesa for example was accused of not remitting taxes on winnings, an accusation that SportPesa defended itself against.

The other reason although not officially made is the accusation that these betting firms have been siphoning money out of Kenya. Going by this Guardian article, this accusation seems to be valid. Those accusing SportPesa of siphoning money out of the country led by CS. Fred Matiangi quote figures to the tune of shs 2 billion as the amount of money SportPesa has taken out of the country.

Then there is another point of view worth considering, the possibility that cartels and top politicians were interested in killing the top most betting firms so that they can fill the vacuum with their own firms. I am not sure who owns Mozzarbett, since the SportPesa and Betin troubles started, the betting company has been smiling all the way to the bank. Just yesterday same time as SportPesa was busy firing all its employees, Mozzarbet was busy ensuring that the media ran a story of how a Kakamega man won Kshs 10 million after correctly predicting the results of 46 football matches. Mozzarbet is therefore poised to take up the position once held by SportPesa. It would be interesting to know the names of people behind the betting firm.

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It should now be clear that juxtaposing William Ruto and 2022 general elections with the troubles of SportPesa is uncalled for. There are several valid reasons why anyone would rather not vote for William Ruto in the 2022 general elections, but SportPesa firing 400 employees is definitely not one of them, unless it can be shown conclusively that he is one of the powerful politicians who wanted SportPesa to create a vacuum he can fill up.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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