Democracy and Governance

Nyusi moves on timber and secret debt

Forensic auditors Kroll were given access to the Mozambican bank accounts of former president Armando Guebuza and his close associates on 29 March, five days after Kroll was given a one-month extension for its report. And Land, Environment and Rural Development Minister Celso Correia won an extension to the ban on logging, agreed by the Council of Ministers Tuesday 4 April.

President Filipe Nyusi is moving against more corrupt elements of the Frelimo old guard whose actions have cost billions of dollars, nearly bankrupted the country, and tarnished the image of the party sufficiently to raise questions about upcoming elections. Renamo President Afonso Dhlakama’s decision to contest 2018 local elections, and in negotiations to call for a major increase in the number of municipalities, suggests he thinks Renamo can beat Frelimo in many of the smaller municipalities.

Many of those accused of corruption are also part of Frelimo factions moving against Nyusi, and who will be weakened by the anti-corruption moves, giving Nyusi more control of the party before the Frelimo congress in September. Party infighting means that no decisions are being taken now without an eye to the congress.

Nyusi has moved slowly and carefully. The head of SISE, who had been blocking the secret debt audit, was only replaced under pressure from the IMF and Sweden (who are funding the audit) and just before Kroll’s first extension. Access to bank accounts was given only after Kroll’s second extension. None of the $2 bn secret loans entered Mozambique; all was retained by the main contractor outside the country. This suggests corrupt payments would have gone into secret off-shore bank accounts and not directly into Mozambican accounts. But the organisers of the secret debt felt confident that they would not be exposed, so subsequent unexplained transfers from off-shore accounts may appear in their Mozambican bank accounts.

Corruption in the hardwood timber trade has been devastating Mozambique’s forests and costing the country more than $150 million per year. Corruption has become endemic, from local forest guards through local party leaders and port officials, allegedly up to ministers. It was first exposed more than a decade ago, in a 2005 report “Forest governance in Zambezia: Chinese takeaway” by Catherine Mackenzie, and has been the subject of countless articles since then, but the corrupt networks seemed untouchable. Celso Correia is one of President Nyusi’s closest confidants; one of Correia’s top priorities over the past two years has been to halt the unchecked exploitation of valuable hardwoods, and he moved slowly with a series of restrictions. Only recently could Nyusi be sure that he had enough power within Frelimo and in the Council of Ministers to finally curb the trade – and with so many people profiting, the battle is not over.   jh

Kroll to see Guebuza bank account, 19 others

Banks were ordered by the Attorney General’s office (Procuradoria-Geral da Republica, PGR) on 29 March to provide details of all movements during 2012-16 for all accounts in Meticais and foreign currency for 19 individuals and one company. PGR spokesperson Georgina Zandamela told Bloomberg that the request is part of the audit into Ematum, Proindicus and MAM being undertaken for the PRG by the forensic auditor Kroll. Those named are:

– Former President Armando Guebuza and his sons Mussumbuluco and Ndambi.
– Edson Macuacaua, who was press officer and advisor to Guebuza when he was president. A member of parliament since 2000, and currently chair of the Constitutional Affairs, Human Rights and Legality Commission.
– Other advisors to former President Guebuza: Renato Matusse (also a member for the board of LAM), Marlene Magaia (also curator of the Museum of the Presidency), Carlos Simango, Neusa Cristina Matos, and Carlos Pessane.
– Three members of the embassy in the UAE (United Arab Emerates), which is the base of Abu Dhabi Mar, which owns the shipyard that built the Ematum fishing boats. They are Francisco Cigarro (former head of protocol to Guebuza) and now ambassador to UAE, Jose Maneia, consul in Dubai, and Riduan Adamo.
– Lizete Chang, who died last year, was the wife of former finance minister Manuel Chang.
– Jociro International, an investment company mainly owned by Antonio Carlos do Rosario, head of Ematum, MAM and Proindicus; and Angela Leao, shareholder in Jociro and wife of Gregorio Leao, who was dismissed as head of the security services, SISE, in January.
– Izadora Faztudo, who died in 2015 and was a member of parliament and a former deputy minister of fisheries. She was involved in a conflict of interest controversy in 2011 when she was chair of Cervejas de Mocambique (CDM) and an MP when parliament approved a new law which cut the taxes for CDM.
– Guilhermina Langa, Maria Gamito, Salvador Mula and Teofilo Nhangumele (country manager for McDermott Marine Construction).

Savana reports that access to other accounts, including those of Manual Chang and Antonio Carlos do Rosario, had been authorized earlier.

(Source: John Hanlon: Mozambique 366. News reports & clippings 10 April 2017)