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The Angoche District Attorney’s office, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, is investigating the illegal sale of the Angoche town fish market by the local municipal council, reports Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
The sale of the fish market to the company Diamantino Mariscos, for 1.5 million meticais (about 24,000 US dollars), was closed on 30 April. Since the company is next door to the market, the sale greatly expands the space available to Diamentino Mariscos to process its shellfish.
However, the rules laid down in a decree of July 2018 for selling publicly-owned buildings state that any such sale must be authorised by the Ministry of Finance after consultation with the Ministry of Public Works.
But there is no such authorisation for the sale of the Angoche fish market. “O Pais” found that nether the Provincial Directorate of Economy and Finance, nor the Provincial Directorate of Fisheries were consulted.
The Angoche Attorney’s Office has opened a criminal investigation into the sale. The spokesperson for the District Attorney, Herminia Xavier, told the paper that it has requested all relevant documents from the Provincial Directory of Fisheries and from Diamantno Mariscos “to check whether the sale has really happened, how it happened, and who sold it, since this is a state asset handed over to municipal management for the benefit of all citizens in the municipality”.
Local prosecutors intend to declare the sale null and void, if the interests of the fishermen of Angoche are damaged by the privatisation of this public asset.
“O Pais” attempted to contact the Mayor of Angoche, Ossufo Raja, but he did not return their calls.
Raja was the victorious candidate of the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, in the municipal elections of October 2018, but he found himself faced with a financial crisis.
Angoche has no substantial tax base of its own, and faces difficulties even in paying wages to its own employees. The municipality complains of delays in receiving the Municipal Compensation Fund and the Local Investment Fund from the central government – but the Finance Ministry has warned that these funds are not intended to pay wages.
Since the start of this year, the Municipal Council has only paid its workers half of their February wages. It is not paid the January wages at all, on the grounds that this is the responsibility of the previous municipal administration, which was run by the ruling Frelimo Party.
Interviewed in April by the independent Nampula paper “Ikweli”, Raja said that the debt to the municipality’s 420 workers was around 12 million meticais. He blamed the debt on the government’s failure to send Angoche its share of the Municipal Compensation Fund.
Raja did not think that Angoche was being punished for electing a Renamo mayor, because Malema and Mozambique Island, two other Nampula municipalities run by Renamo, do not have the same financial difficulties.Source: AIM