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Mozambique clippings

compiled by Joseph Hanlon
2 September 2001
Distributed by SARPN with permission
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"Ethics Mozambique" has been launched to fight a "rapid deterioration in moral standards". And a public opinion survey shows key state institutions, such as the police and the courts, have lost almost all their credibility
The current phase of the case, the "InstruР·Ріo ContraditСѓria" (a bit like a US Grand Jury hearing but with an examining magistrate), has been extended and the accused remain in jail, because the case is complex, and there was a two month delay in which nothing was done. A formal set of charges is expected by 10 September.
Preparation of the judicial case about the 1996 $14 mn BCM fraud has finally resumed, and is expected to take at least 4 months. The investigation was blocked and papers deliberately disorganised. Those implicated include 3 detained in the Cardoso case.
BIM and BCM are to merge, which means 50% of Mozambican banking is now controlled by Banco Comercial Portugues and its owner Jardim Goncalves, a prominent member of the far right Opus Dei
Two officers in charge of Montepuez jail were sentenced to 17 and 18 years in jail for their part in the asphyxiation deaths of at least 83 detainees.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) says that after the Cardoso murder, the Mozambican press is afraid to write about highly placed people.
Maputo, 23 Aug (AIM) — "Ethics Mozambique", an NGO intending to defend ethical values in Mozambican society, was launched in Maputo on Wednesday.
The reason behind the creation of such an organization is to "safeguard social welfare and the country's economic progress", as explained by one of its founders, Abdul Carimo, a prominent lawyer, and former first deputy chairperson of the Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament.
A study on corruption in Mozambique, presented during the launching ceremony, concluded "it would be naive of the country not to create a space where the growing generalization of corruption can be dealt with".
Carimo noted a rapid deterioration in moral standards, which is having serious negative implications in the functioning of public institutions.
"Generalization of this ill will ruin the country's economic progress", he warned, adding "we found that we could not remain indifferent towards corruption".
Carimo warned that anyone who imagines that humble citizens will accept the effects of generalized corruption is deceiving himself.
Addressing the launching ceremony, he said that thousands of citizens suffer the effects of corruption every day, notably when those who are supposed to be public servants force citizens to pay illicit charges in a wide variety of state institutions.
He said that such abuses have a serious negative impact on people's lives, particularly among the poorest strata of the population.
Prior to the formal launching of "Ethics Mozambique", a survey was undertaken into popular perceptions of corruption. During this survey about 1,500 people were questioned in Maputo city and province, in Sofala, in the centre of the country, and in Nampula, in the north.
Juvito Nunes, representing the company that carried out the survey, said that there is not, as yet, any firm data on the prevalence of corruption in Mozambique, but he noted that the country was cited in 2000 as one of the countries with the highest corruption rates worldwide.
He added that among Mozambicans there is the feeling that the government is failing to deal with generalized corruption.
Nunes said that the survey concluded that about 99.6 per cent of acts of corruption reported in the three regions where it was conducted could be classified as "petty corruption".
Under this heading are included bribes to ensure speedy service from public servants, or to acquire a bed for a patient in hospital, or to purchase good marks for one's children in school exams.
However, "Ethics Mozambique" noted that, despite the fact that this "petty corruption" involves relatively small sums, it has a "serious impact" on the poor.
As for the remaining 0.4 per cent, they are described as acts of "major corruption".
Although the percentage may seem very small, the impact "is very serious" since these acts involve high ranking political figures, magistrates, and senior police officers, among others, said Nunes.
This kind of corruption is related, for example, to illicit payments to obtain bank loans, to hinder the normal course of investigation by the police into drug trafficking and other crimes, or to silence witnesses to money laundering.
"Ethics Mozambique" stresses that its purpose is not to probe allegations of individual acts of corruption, but to promote and strengthen integrity, transparency and the public interest, through the defence of ethical values.
Other founding members of the organization include former education minister Graca Machel, the Anglican archbishop of the Libombos diocese, Dinis Sengulane, the vice-chancellor of the Higher University and Polytechnic Institute (ISPU), Lourenco do Rosario, Alice Mabota, chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH), and Artemisa Franco, general secretary of the rival Human Rights and Development Association (DHD).
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Maputo, 26 Aug (AIM) — A study on the perception of corruption among the Mozambican public, unveiled last Wednesday at the launching of the new anti-corruption NGO "Ethics Mozambique", reveals that key state institutions, such as the police and the courts, have lost almost all their credibility.
The report, carried out in three provinces (Maputo, Sofala and Nampula), interviewed 1,200 individuals and 300 institutions (companies, associations and NGOs).
sked how many members of the government they believed were involved in corruption, 58.8 per cent of the sample replied "many" or "most", and only 6.8 per cent answered "none" or "almost none".
The score for the courts was similar: 58.1 per cent thought that many, or a majority, of judges are corrupt, while 7.4 per cent thought the judiciary had a reasonably clean slate.
The police did much worse, with a huge majority — 70.2 per cent — of the sample regarding "many" or "most" policemen as corrupt. Only 6.1 per cent thought there were only a few corrupt cops.
Businessmen are not well respected either: the study found that 40.8 per cent of those interviewed regarded most or many businessmen as corrupt, and just 7.3 per cent thought corruption only involved a few people in the business community.
Journalists did much better. 30.8 per cent thought many journalists in the public media are corrupt, and the figure fell to 18.3 per cent for the private media. 13.8 per cent thought that none, or only a few, journalists in the public sector are corrupt, and 19.7 per cent had the same opinion for the privately-owned media.
The people with the best score were priests, nuns and pastors. 36.4 per cent of the sample thought that none or almost none of them are corrupt: but a substantial 17.2 per cent thought there was a large amount of corruption among the clergy.
Asked if state bodies were capable of eliminating corruption, more of those interviewed said yes than no. 45.5 per cent of the sample credited the government with "a great deal" of capacity to end corruption, while only 20 per cent said the government was quite unable to deal with the problem. Comparable responses were given with regard to the police, the judiciary and parliament.
But many of those interviewed believed that, while state bodies are well able to deal a death blow to corruption, they have no interest in doing so.
42.4 per cent of the sample thought the government had no interest in tackling corruption, while 20.6 per cent thought it had a great deal of interest. The score for the police was substantially worse — 50.5 per cent thought the police had no interest in eradicating corruption, while 15.8 per cent believed they had a great deal of interest.
There are one or two replies from which the government can take some comfort. President Joaquim Chissano is still reasonably well liked and respected: 40 per cent of the sample said they "greatly" trusted the President, as against 31.6 per cent who said they had no trust in him.
34.6 per cent said they "greatly" trusted the provincial governor, but 32.1 per cent had no trust in him. The most trusted governor was Felicio Zacarias in Sofala with 40.2 per cent of the sample "greatly" trusting him: the consultant who introduced the report, Jovito Nunes of the company Afrisurvey, noted that what distinguishes Zacarias from the other two governors is that he has not only made speeches against corruption, but has taken vigorous action to root out corruption in the Sofala public services.
As for parliament, 45.3 per cent of the sample had no trust in it, while 24.7 per cent greatly trusted it. A clear majority had no trust in the police (61.6 per cent), in the municipal authorities (53.5 per cent), and in the courts (51.2 per cent).
It was possible to draw comparisons with similar studies elsewhere in southern Africa. The citizens of Namibia believe they are living under a reasonably clean system: 68.9 per cent trust the police, and 66.3 per cent trust the courts. In Botswana, the figures are 60 per cent and 64.3 per cent, and in Zambia 37.5 per cent and 63.6 per cent.
Even in Zimbabwe 35.5 per cent are said to trust the police and 42.2 per cent trust the courts. But in Mozambique these figures collapse to 15 per cent and 19.1 per cent respectively.
The study found that 22.6 per cent of the sample had been asked for a bribe, and 21.2 per cent had paid bribes.
The most common bribes were in the health service: 29.7 per cent of the bribes paid were demanded by health workers. Illicit payments were made, not only to ensure a hospital bed or speedy treatment, but to obtain medical certificates, or the results of medical examinations, for blood transfusions, and even for anaesthetic when undergoing minor surgery. (This is particularly horrifying: a health worker who demands money before giving an anaesthetic is really saying "Pay me, or I will torture you".)
Bribes were also paid to teachers to place children in schools, or to pass exams, to policemen to release suspected criminals, or to ensure that they investigate crimes, rather than ignoring them, and to civil servants to speed up the issuing of licences and other documents, including passports.
The list of normal state services which interviewees were only able to obtain by paying a bribe is long, depressing, and occasionally macabre: bribes had to be paid on occasion to locate the bodies of loved ones in the morgue, or to ensure a place for them in the local cemetery.
The study also asked whether the interviewees had been the victims of crime. 41 per cent said they, or a member of their family, had been robbed at some time in the previous 12 months: but only 33.5 per cent bothered to report the crimes to the police.
The results of complaining to the police are not encouraging. In the vast majority of cases (75.3 per cent) no one has been arrested, and in only 1.4 per cent of cases has the criminal been tried and sentenced.
Lack of trust in institutions leads to calls for violent means to end crime and corruption. The vast majority of the sample thought that draconian punishments would greatly reduce corruption: among the methods they believed would be effective were cutting off the hands of the corrupt (72 per cent), re-introducing the death penalty (71.6 per cent), burning thieves alive (69.3 per cent - this is something which has occasionally happened when thieves are caught in the act), and seizing the property of the corrupt (66.7 per cent).
The study warns of the serous dangers that the increasing lack of trust in state institutions brings. The state would pay dearly for the abuses committed by public servants, said Nunes — for years to come there would be "distrust, resentment, lack of faith and unwillingness by citizens to cooperate".
To overcome this, it was urgent that state institutions should give "unequivocal evidence of commitment to justice and universal ethics in public service".
"If something radical is not done urgently", Nunes concluded, "then before long the abuses will be so deeply rooted in the memory of citizens that it will be too late to eradicate the resentment. If this happens, the social breakdown will be irreversible".
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Maputo, 24 Aug (AIM) — Mozambican police on Wednesday made a further arrest in the case of the murder of the country's best-known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, last November.
According to Lucinda Cruz, the lawyer for Cardoso's family, the man arrested, Mario Matola, is suspected of involvement in the theft of the Citi-Golf vehicle that was used in the murder.
Matola is a friend of one of those accused of carrying out the assassination, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior (known as "Anibalzinho").
The warrant for Matola's arrest was issued by the Maputo City Court. He was interrogated earlier in the investigation, but was not arrested then.
(A story in Friday's issue of the newsheet "Mediafax" claimed that Matola was detained for three days in March, and released in exchange for a statement incriminating Anibalzinho. But the only source for this claim is an anonymous relative of Matola.)
There are now seven people being held in the Maputo top security prison on charges connected in one way another to the assassination.
Businessmen Momade Assife Abdul Satar and Ayob Abdul Satar, and former bank manager Vicente Ramaya are accused of ordering the murder of Cardoso; Anibalzinho, Manuel Fernandes and Rachid Cassamo of carrying it out; and Mario Matola of stealing the car used.
Maputo, 27 Aug (AIM) - Mozambique's two largest banks, the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM), and the International Bank of Mozambique (BIM), will merge in November.
Former Prime Minister Mario Machungo, who is the chairman of both banks, confirmed the merger in an interview published in Monday's issue of the independent newsheet "Metical".
Both banks are already controlled by the largest Portuguese financial institution, the BCP, headed by one of Portugal's richest men, Jardim Goncalves. But so far each bank has had its own separate ownership structure.
That will now end, and instead of two separate banks, the BCP will have what "Metical" describes as "a super-bank" in Mozambique.
Machungo said the merger results "from the will expressed by the shareholders". Paving the way for the merger are shareholders' meetings of BIM and the BCM, and the insurance companies linked to each bank (SIM and IMPAR respectively), all scheduled for September.
Machungo defended the merger on the grounds that the shareholders found it necessary "to take advantage of the synergies arising from joint management".
He said the operation will involve setting up a single computer system, use of the same "back office", and avoiding any duplication of investments. He claimed the merger would "reduce costs to the benefit of clients, of the market, and of banking supervision".
The merger might indeed make supervision by the central bank somewhat easier: the business of the two banks was already interlinked, which caused some confusion. Sources in the financial sector told "Metical" that some BCM documents had been appearing with BIM stamps, so that it was not entirely clear which bank they referred to.
It is not yet clear what name the bank will have after the merger. "Metical" said there are suggestions that the acronym BCM will disappear altogether, since it is so linked in the public mind to banking fraud and mismanagement. Machungo did not confirm this, saying the final decision would be up to the shareholders.
Machungo said that neither the central bank nor the government have opposed the merger. "They both agreed that these banks could merge to facilitate competition", he said.
"Metical" did not buy the novel idea that competition increases when the number of banks is reduced. Instead, the paper suggested that the merger is "an assault against competition", and warned that the BIM/BCM might exercise effective control over the financial market, and manipulate interest rates.
Machungo admitted that a market share of 50 per cent was "significant", and "brings new responsibilities".
But he denied that BIM/BCM would operate outside of the principles of competition, and claimed that the central bank, as supervisor of the system, would guarantee this.
"The central bank's supervision has appropriate instruments to control how the market operates", he said. "Should it think that BIM/BCM is taking attitudes that damage the market, then it will act to avoid this".
So was Machungo putting his trust in the same sort of supervision which tolerated disastrous management of the privatised Austral Bank, allowing it to come close to collapse in April ?
"I think we have to look at things positively", Machungo replied. "I know there were mistakes in the past, but we have to look at the future in a positive light. Until a short while ago, banks were not obliged to publish their account. Today we have to publish them every six months. This is a sign that we are growing".
There is nothing illegal about the merger, since Mozambique does not possess any anti-trust laws.
But there is certainly an ethical problem. "Metical" recalled that three years ago Jardim Goncalves protested when one of his rivals, the Portuguese state bank, the Caixa Geral de Depositos (CGD), increased its share of the Portuguese financial market.
Two years ago, when the BCP took over the Mello Bank, which was then the dominant shareholder in the BCM, Goncalves flatly denied that he wanted a dominant position in the Mozambican financial sector.
Such dominance might affect the market, he said. On a visit to Mozambique in January 2000, Goncalves declared "We don't hold dominant positions in any foreign country, and neither directly nor indirectly will we maintain a dominant position in the BCM".
He even suggested that the BCP might sell off its holding in the BCM, which he appeared to regard as an accidental by-product of the BCP's takeover of the Mello Bank. "We would not enter the BCM, if the Mozambican government did not want us to", he said. "We would disinvest".
But the BCP's actions contradict Goncalves' words. The BCP has greatly strengthened its position in Mozambique: it decided to continue as the leading shareholder in the BCM, even after the disastrous performance of the bank from 1996 to 1999 became clear (the losses announced for 1999 were in excess of 120 million US dollars). Indeed, by agreeing to recapitalise the BCM, Jardim Goncalves may have made himself indispensable.
Sceptics might think that the unspoken agreement between Goncalves and the Mozambican government is something like: "I will rescue the BCM, if you will allow me a near-monopoly position in your financial market".
Up until very recently, Goncalves' position was that, despite the BCP's dominant position in both BIM and the BCM, the two Mozambican banks would continue as separate entities. Even though they shared directors, they would continue to compete.
That was the position at the BCM annual general meeting held in March. But in fact there was no real competition, and in the name of reducing costs the administrations and procedures of the two banks merged. This will now culminate in the formal, legal merger planned for November.
"Metical" notes that in Goncalves' home country the dominance of the market by foreign banks is not allowed. Thus when the Spanish Banco Central Santander attempted to take over the Portuguese Banco Totta e Acores, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres vetoed the deal.
With the November merger, the structure of the Mozambican financial market will be as follows: BIM/BCM — 50 per cent; Standard Totta Bank — 16 per cent; Austral Bank — 14 per cent; Commercial and Investment Bank - 10 per cent; Fomento Bank — 7 per cent; others — 3 per cent.
With the exception of Austral, all the named banks are dominated by Portuguese capital. After a consortium headed by the Malaysian Southern Bank Berhard pulled out in April, Austral has been back in the hands of the Mozambican state — but negotiations are under way to sell it off to the South African bank ABSA
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Maputo, 20 Jul (AIM) — A court in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Friday sentenced two police officers to lengthy prison terms for their part in the deaths by asphyxiation of at least 83 detainees last November.
The detainees had been arrested following the 9 November clashes in the town of Montepuez between the police and demonstrators organised by the former rebel movement Renamo.
Dozens of detainees were thrown into a cell measuring just three by seven metres, and with insufficient ventilation, at the Montepuez police command. The exact number of deaths is still unclear because the police did not keep a proper list of names and addresses of those they had arrested.
The officer on duty on the night of 21-22 November, when most of the deaths occurred, Terciano Mithale, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. One of his subordinates, Horacio Nhoca, who was in charge of the cell received a 17 year sentence.
Both men were ordered to pay 20 million meticais (about 920 US dollars) in compensation to the families of each of the victims of the death cell.
But three other policemen were acquitted on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence against them.
For two of them, Basilio Guezane and Hilario Chambone, this comes as no surprise, since the prosecutor, Beatriz Buchili, had already announced that she was dropping the charges against them.
But the court also announced that it found the case against the Montepuez district police commander, Dahalili Sumail, unproved.
This is despite the claims by survivors that the day before the mass deaths, Sumail had entered the cell waving a pistol and telling the inmates "None of you will leave here alive".
In May, the same court sentenced to 20 year sentences the five men regarded as the ringleaders of the 9 November riot. The main charge against these men was armed rebellion.
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"Certain stories involving highly placed people-we think it's best not to touch those," said one journalist.
Maputo, Mozambique, July 19, 2001-Eight months after the murder of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso, Mozambican journalists told a delegation from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that they are afraid to cover sensitive stories, particularly those involving corruption.
The delegation included CPJ board member Clarence Page, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune; CPJ deputy director Joel Simon; CPJ Africa program coordinator Yves Sorokobi; South African journalist Phillip van Niekerk; and Mozambican journalist Fernando Lima.
During a four-day visit to the Mozambican capital, Maputo, CPJ representatives met with dozens of journalists from print and broadcast media, both state-owned and private. The delegation was also received by high-ranking Mozambican government officials. All of the officials articulated a commitment to press freedom.
Journalists, however, presented a different picture. While there is no official censorship, journalists described many episodes of self-censorship. Several told CPJ that certain stories are off limits, particularly those involving corruption.
"There is fear when you get into the hardest part of the news," one journalist said in an interview with the delegation. Another said, "Certain stories involving highly placed people-we think it's best not to touch those."
These findings are particularly disappointing given that CPJ and other press freedom organizations have been encouraged by Mozambique's past record. The country is known for an environment in which both independent and state-sponsored media have competed freely, without official interference.
CPJ's preliminary findings were outlined at a press conference in Maputo this morning. A more detailed report will be released at a later date.
Cardoso murder casts a shadow
Every person interviewed by the CPJ delegation agreed that the murder of Cardoso has left a serious gap in aggressive, investigative reporting. Many journalists said they were now afraid to follow in Cardoso's footsteps.
Cardoso was a veteran independent journalist who edited the daily fax newsletter Metical. He was shot dead on November 22, 2000, as he left his paper's offices in the Maputo suburb of Polana. After two vehicles cut off Cardoso's car, two unidentified assassins opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles, killing him instantly and seriously wounding his driver.
One week before his death, Cardoso launched a campaign against what he called the "gangster faction" in the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), which he accused of provoking recent political violence in the country.
Shortly before Cardoso's murder, Metical had been reporting aggressively on alleged wrongdoing at the Mozambique Commercial Bank. And on the day of Cardoso's assassination, Radio Mozambique journalist Custadio Rafael was attacked, beaten and had his tongue slashed for "speaking too much," according to news reports. Rafael had also been investigating the Mozambique Commercial Bank scandal.
Cardoso, 48, was one of Mozambique's foremost media personalities. He was internationally acclaimed for his groundbreaking reporting on political corruption and organized crime in Mozambique, a country that is still recovering from a brutal, decades-long civil war.
Earlier in his career, Cardoso served as editor and later director of Mozambique's state news agency AIM, from which he resigned in 1989. Before founding Metical in 1998, Cardoso ran another independent fax newsletter, Mediafax, which he launched in 1992. He sympathized politically with FRELIMO but often lambasted the government in his editorials.
Although a more detailed report will be released later, CPJ urges immediate steps by the Mozambique government to reduce the level of fear and foster a healthy media environment:
  • CPJ calls on the government to publicly reaffirm its respect for the role of the press as a check on abuses of power. Journalists who pursue stories involving official corruption must be able to count on the full protection and support of authorities.
  • CPJ urges the government to make the Cardoso murder investigation an ongoing priority and to aggressively pursue all avenues, regardless of where they lead. The best way to combat self-censorship is through a vigorous pursuit of justice in this case.
The CPJ delegation thanked the numerous government officials and private citizens who offered valuable information about Cardoso and the investigation.
However, the delegation expressed concern that a climate of fear surrounds the investigation. For example, one person who declined to meet with CPJ claimed to have received death threats. Several others cancelled meetings at the last minute.
Maputo, 22 Aug (AIM) — Four armed men stormed into a foreign exchange house in the Maputo plush suburb of Sommerschield, killing a security guard on duty as well as getting away with an unspecified sum of money.
The guard, Antonio David aged 32 worked for the Maputo-based security firm SSP.
According to eye-witness accounts, David was killed on Tuesday just before 17:00 (15:00 GMT) while on duty at the "Mundo Cambios".
The attackers, who were armed with three AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and one pistol, started shooting randomly as soon as they reached the exchange house premises, witnesses said — the shootings lasted for about 15 minutes, the time it took them to order management to hand them the money.
Maputo, 23 Aug (AIM) — The Mozambican police have recovered at least 274 million meticais (about 12,500 US dollars) of the money stolen from the "Mundo Cambios" exchange house, in Maputo earlier this week, reports Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias".
The money was stolen on Tuesday by a group of four armed men, who shot their way into the shop, killing the security guard on duty, and making away with an unspecified amount in cash.
The money so far recovered has already been handed back to the owner of the exchange house.
The police also recovered two AK-47 rifles and two pistols after a shoot out with the criminals in the Maputo suburb of Chamanculo, shortly after the robbery.
One of the criminals was shot dead, another was arrested, and one policeman was wounded in the shoot out.
"We are still looking for the other two members of the group, using all the information provided by the one who is under police custody", said the spokesperson for the Maputo police command, Jacinto Cuna.
Police believe that the robbers bungled their getaway. When they left "Mundo Cambios", the vehicle they expected to pick them up was not there. They then ran down the street, shooting all the way, trying to find a vehicle in which to flee.
Eventually, they stopped a passing car, and forced its driver to take them to Chamanculo.

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