Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Thursday assured the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that preventing and fighting against corruption “are priorities in the action of our government, because corruption compromises the government’s efforts to improve living standards”.
He was summing up at the end of a two day question and answer session between the deputies and the government, in which members of the rebel movement Renamo repeatedly claimed that the government was entirely corrupt.
Rosario retorted that the government “will continue to strengthen measures seeking to consolidate the construction of a society based on the principles of integrity, transparency, legality, and responsibility in the management of public assets”.
The government; he added, “encourages the bodies of the administration of justice to continue their work to combat corruption”.
The corruption issue most frequently mentioned in this debate was the accusation that the former chairperson of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), Jose Viegas, demanded a bribe of 800,000 US dollars, in 2009, from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer.
Embraer has already confessed to bribing officials in Mozambique, the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and India, and has agreed to pay fines totaling 225 million dollars in the United States and in Brazil. Rosario declined to make any detailed comment, on the grounds that the government cannot intervene in an ongoing investigation by the Attorney-General’s Office.
The Prime Minister also pledged that in 2017 there will be a gradual transfer of powers from the state to the municipalities “as a mechanism to implement administrative decentralization and autonomy of the municipalities”.
He was responding to a complaint from deputies of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) that so far no powers in the areas of health care or primary education have yet been decentralized to the four municipalities run by the MDM (the cities of Beira, Nampula and Quelimane, and the town of Gurue).
MDM deputy Laurinda Cheia demanded to know why some municipalities run by the ruling Frelimo Party had powers over health and education but those run by the MDM did not. She did not accept government assurances that these powers would be handed over once the municipalities were technically ready to handle them.
“What are the technical problems that exist in the MDM-run municipalities, but do not exist in Maputo, Xai-Xai or Pemba?”, she asked.
Rosario said that measures of macro-economic stabilization are bearing fruit, with a recovery in the exchange rate of the country’s currency, the metical, and improvements in the balance of payments and in Mozambique’s net international reserves.
Such developments “lead us to look towards 2017 with optimism and confidence”, he said, but it remained crucial to ensure “the restoration of an effective and lasting peace”.
During the debate, Renamo deputies claimed that the government side was deliberately holding up progress in the Joint Commission between the government and Renamo. Frelimo retorted that ending the current conflict simply depended on Renamo’s illegal militia laying down their guns.
Frelimo deputy Costa Chale said it made no sense for Renamo to come to the Assembly and demand to know what the government was doing to combat poverty, when it was Renamo gunmen in the central province of Manica who are driving peasant farmers off their land, and preventing them from producing food.
Renamo had accused the government of operating “death squads”, but Frelimo deputy Jaime Neto pointed out that the only political party in Mozambique with an armed wing is Renamo. Renamo is “the enemy of peace”, he declare, and the way forward was for Renamo “to immediately stop promoting violence against the people”.