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Helena Taipo. File photo: Facebook
Mozambique’s former Labour Minister and current ambassador to Angola, Helena Taipo, has tried to push the blame for the corruption charges she is now facing onto the ruling Frelimo Party, reports the latest issue of the independent weekly “Savana”.
Taipo is under investigation because, in 2014, she allegedly took bribes of around 100 million meticais (about 1.7 million US dollars at current exchange rates), paid for favouring certain companies in contracts they signed with the National Social Security Institute (INSS), a body that is supervised by the Labour Ministry.
Building and printing companies were among the firms that supposedly paid Taipo bribes in return for contracts to provide services and goods to the INSS.
She is also accused of receiving expenses from both the Labour Ministry and the INSS for the same trips abroad.
The Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) notified Taipo that it wished to question her a few days after she had delivered her letters of accreditation to Angolan President Joao Lourenco. She was appointed ambassador to Luanda in July.
According to “Savana”, Taipo reacted by seeking an audience with the Attorney-General, Beatriz Buchili. The GCCC is a specialist unit within Buchili’s office. But the Attorney-General did not receive Taipo.
The paper’s sources claimed that the equivalent of over a million dollars was deposited into a single account operated by Taipo. No attempt was made to hide the money.
The GCCC questioned Taipo, accompanied by her lawyers, on Monday and Tuesday in Maputo. During this interrogation, she supposedly claimed that the money was not for her personal use, but was to finance Frelimo electoral activities.
This is not the first time that people accused of corruption have used the excuse “Frelimo made me do it”. The most notorious precedent was in 2009, when the then chairperson of the Mozambique Airports Company (AdM), Diodino Cambaza, went on trial accused of embezzling 54 million meticais (900,000 US dollars at current exchange rates, but worth much more a decade ago).
Cambaza claimed that part of the money was spent on rehabilitating the Frelimo Central School in the southern city of Matola. The court did not regard this as an extenuating circumstance, and Cambaza was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment, reduced to 12 years on appeal.Source: AIM