Mozambique sets up new anti-graft office

A new, independent anti-corruption office will be created to stamp out graft in the public sector, Mozambique’s attorney general said on Saturday.

Francisco Madeira told state radio that the National Council for the Fight against Corruption will be autonomous, with no interference from the government.

President Armando Guebuza made the anti-corruption drive one of his top priorities when he took office in January. However, some criticised his government for not acting on the pledge.

“People are dying of hunger in this country. But you see 4x4 cars are everywhere, while people are dying of disease because we have no money to buy medicines,” said Martinha Noronha, a 42-year-old mother of four.

Still recovering from a 19-year civil war, the former Portuguese colony remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Nearly two-thirds of its 19-million people live on less than $1 a day.

Although foreign investment is flourishing and growth rates have exceeded 7% a year for a decade, many people complain that the economic growth and the uneven distribution of development programmes have served only to line the pockets of the rich and powerful.

Graft remains a huge problem, with hundreds of millions of dollars going missing from public coffers.

Mario Muchave (37), who works for the Mozambican Railways Company, said: “Some ministers and national directors have more than 10 cars. Where do they get money to buy them?”

“In a poor country like this, how can someone who became minister in a few months build a mansion worth millions of dollars?” asked labourer Jose Mucavel.

Madeira said the new office will replace the existing anti-corruption unit, which was set up in 2002 but was widely considered ineffectual. He said the office will open within days and report to the attorney general’s office.

“The creation of this office is part of reforms in the public sector,” he said.—Sapa-AP=

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