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Odebrecht headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil
The Brazilian construction company Odebrecht may have bribed top Mozambican officials between 2011 and 2014, possibly during the construction of Nacala airport. Authorities have so far preferred to remain silent.
Recently, the US Department of Justice has uncovered several corruption scandals involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, said to have paid bribes valued at US$788 million in 12 African and Latin American countries, including Angola and Mozambique.
In the case of Mozambique, senior government officials are said to have received about US$900,000 between 2011 and 2014, possibly involving the construction of Nacala airport, which cost the Mozambican state US$216.5 million. The case has rocked a country already immersed in similar murky cases.
DW Africa interviewed Baltazar Fael, a researcher at the Public Integrity Center (CIP), on the subject.
DW Africa: Is it normal for the Mozambican authorities to remain silent about an allegation of corruption?
Baltazar Fael (BF): Normal, it is not. The Mozambican government, through its institutions, in this case the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), must take over, as the defender of legality and one that repudiates acts of corruption by its employees. The other situation are those examples, which I could enumerate, in which the Mozambican government did not act.
So we need stronger action by the PGR in corruption cases, even if they involve corruption at international level. These cases must be treated like the others, although we do not have enough data to tell us that all cases, even the oldest, are treated as they should be.
DW Africa: Will it take some kind of pressure, as has been customary in recent times, for the PGR to start investigating the Odebrecht case?
BF: We think so. It is possible that somehow we will do some of the work that the PGR itself should do, which is to address these cases in obedience to the principle of legality and not the principle of opportunity, which is to pursue those cases which they think should be followed. So there needs to be this pressure. But I am talking about the Odebrecht case. Let us not forget that a short time ago senior officials were accused on issues related to LAM (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique), senior officials involved in the acquisition of Embraer aircraft.
And this case is not so old, and there are other relatively recent cases involving international corruption in which the PGR has not produced results or shown exactly what it is doing in these cases. Pressure must be brought to bear, and the CIP is going to work to make some way for the organs of administration of justice, in this case the PGR and the Public Attorney’s Office, to take a more proactive attitude towards public clarification of these cases.
DW Africa: Faced with this lethargy that dominates the PGR, what kind of reforms does the CIP suggest?
BF: There is clearly an intrinsic link between politics and the judicial system in Mozambique. The first thing to do is solve this. The organs of the judiciary must be independent. And in the case of the Public Attorney’s Office, its autonomy must be even greater than what it has been, which is more in the formal sense. When we speak of independence we are talking about the judiciary, which acts without observing pressures or issues of a political nature. And what we see is that this body often waits for endorsement from the government to act.Source: Deutsche Welle