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rFI (File photo) / Ematum boats docked in Maputo
Workers of the Mozambique Tuna Company (Ematum) have gone on strike again in protest at the company’s failure to pay their wages.
The workers went on strike on Monday. Cited in Tuesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the workers said they have not been paid for the past four months, and they have no idea when they will be paid.
The workers told reporters they have also discovered that for the past two years Ematum has not paid contributions to the National Social Security Institute (INSS). The contributions have, on paper, been deducted from the workers’ wages, but the contributions have never been passed on to the INSS. This means that, if an Ematum worker ever needs a benefit from the INSS, he will not qualify to receive it.
The workers say they have little to do except guard the premises, since the Ematum boats no longer put out to the sea. No tuna is being caught, and the vessels are simply at anchor, quietly rotting in the port of Maputo.
Nobody from the company management was present at the port to speak to reporters. The guards on the door said they had received instructions to tell journalists “the director and the other managers are not here”.
So some reporters left the port and went to the Ematum offices in the city, only to find them locked and with no sign of life.
Ematum is one of the three security-related companies that obtained loans in 2013 and 2014 from European banks (Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia), thanks to guarantees illegally issued by the previous government, under President Armando Guebuza.
The Ematum loan was for 850 million dollars – yet now the company is in such dire straits that it cannot even pay its workers.
It remains unclear what the 850 million dollars were spent on. The audit by the US company Kroll of Ematum and the two other companies involved in the scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden loans” could not be completed thanks to deliberate obstruction by the man who is chairperson of all three companies, Antonio do Rosario, who is also a senior officer in the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).
Kroll said it repeatedly asked Rosario for “outstanding information that would provide a better understanding of expenditure: the response was that the requested information was ‘classified’ and not available. Rosario, in a message widely circulated on the Internet even boasted of expelling the Kroll auditors from his office.
500 million dollars of Ematum’s 850 million dollar loans could not be accounted for at all. Ematum’s lawyers say this money was officially moved to the defence budget, and approved by parliament (in December 2013). Rosario also claimed that the money had been spent on defence. But Kroll found that the entire 850 million dollar loan was transferred to the supplier, the Lebanon based company, Privinvest, and Privinvest insists that it did not provide any military equipment.
Kroll also found that the invoice from Privinvest to Ematum was just one page long, without any clear and detailed description of the assets and services provided. Kroll checked the state of the Ematum assets and found that, while they had mostly been delivered, they were not functioning properly.
Ematum’s 24 fishing boats (21 longliners and three trawlers) and three Ocean Eagle patrol vessels existed “but none of the assets are fully operational for several reasons, including a lack of trained crew, and the limitation on available working capital”.
Furthermore there were huge price discrepancies. Kroll looked at the invoices and compared what they listed and what the expert it hired believed was a reasonable price for the assets. Thus, according to the invoices, each of the 24 fishing vessels cost 22.3 million dollars. But the independent expert estimated that each of the boats should have cost no more than two million dollars. So each vessel cost 20.3 million dollars more than Kroll’s expert considered the true cost should have been.Source: AIM