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President Filipe Nyusi (in file CoM)
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday expressed his government’s willingness to cooperate with the institutions of the administration of justice in the investigation into Mozambique’s ‘hidden debts’.
This term refers to the scandal of the two billion US dollars-worth of loans obtained by three fraudulent Mozambican companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014.
The banks only granted the money because the then finance minister, Manuel Chang, signed illicit loan guarantees, which violated both the Mozambican constitution and budget law. The effective bankruptcy of all three companies has rendered the government liable to repay the loans.
Speaking at a New Year’s reception for the diplomatic corps in Maputo, President Nyusi, in his first comment on the scandal since the arrest of Chang in South Africa on 29 December, said that the government would not interfere.
“We reiterate our willingness, as the government, to continue collaborating with the institutions of justice for the outcome of this process, but respecting the principle of the separation of powers,” the president said.
He urged all Mozambicans “to await the outcome calmly, and to respect public order and tranquillity, distancing themselves from acts of agitation and violence that could disturb the development of Mozambique, including the investigation itself”.
Nyusi insisted that the government would remain implacable in the face of corruption. “We remain firm in our commitment to induce changes in attitude and behaviour with regard to the use of public positions and assets,” he declared.
He recognised that acts of terrorism were continuing in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, but emphasised that defence and security forces were working to restore normality there.
New developments in the case of Manuel Chang might unfold on Thursday. Contrary to expectations, the Kempton Park Magistrates Court in Johannesburg will hold an extraordinary session to decide on a request for the conditional release of Chang on bail, according to one of Chang’s lawyers, Stiaan Krause, cited by the independent daily “O Pais”.
The news comes as a surprise, since last week the defence said they had dropped the application for bail, and were instead seeking Chang’s extradition to Mozambique.
Although there is no extradition treaty between Mozambique and South Africa, the Mozambican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) wants Chang returned under the SADC (Southern African Development Community) protocols on justice matters.
Chang was detained on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the US authorities for him to answer charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud. The US has requested his extradition under the extradition treaty between the United States and South Africa.
The seriousness of the PGR’s extradition request is in doubt. As far as is known, the PGR has not issued an arrest warrant for Chang. There are, however, reports that the PGR has asked the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, to lift Chang’s parliamentary immunity (he is a deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party, elected in 2014).
But when reporters questioned the first deputy chairperson of the Assembly, Antonio Amelia, on Wednesday, he would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a request.
“I can’t tell you,” Amelia said. “I don’t know. It would be better if you asked the PGR.”Source: AIM
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