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The Mozambican government announced on Tuesday its intention to oppose the appeal of the South African Minister of Justice and the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO) and to press for the extradition of former minister Manuel Chang to Maputo.
In a letter sent yesterday afternoon to the three parties involved in the extradition case of former Mozambican finance minister, the executive of Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi has instructed law firm Mabunda Incorporated, in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, to intervene on behalf of the Mozambican state and to persuade Pretoria to reconsider Manuel Chang’s extradition to his home country.
“We have been instructed to intervene on behalf of the Mozambican Government to oppose the request made by the Budget Monitoring Forum, the request of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, and to submit a new request for Mr. Chang’s extradition to Mozambique,” the two-page letter sent by email to Manuel Chang’s lawyers, the FMO and the South African government reads.
“Alternatively, that the decision to extradite Mr. Chang (…) be referred to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services for reconsideration and determination based on recent information and facts that will be presented and argued at the hearing and/or subsequent to the hearing. instead of the information only made available to the previous minister when he made the decision,” the note adds.
The attorneys mandated to represent the Mozambican executive also argue that “the preparation of the process has taken longer than expected because government representatives are Portuguese-speaking (…) and are currently abroad attending urgent government affairs”.
“Therefore, the documentation can only be finalised next week,” the letter reads.
In the letter, the South African lawyers report that the Maputo government intends to “request the vice-presiding judge to consider setting a new date for the hearing of the case”, and proposing September 3, 2019.
The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has scheduled a hearing on the extradition case of former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang for 13 August, said Denise Namburete, coordinator of the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO) platform, a collective of 21 Mozambican civil society organisations.
In a petition sent earlier this month to South African judicial authorities, South Africa’s current Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, says he does not understand Mozambique’s extradition request on Manuel Chang because the former finance minister enjoys immunity as a Member of the Assembly of the Republic and is not yet the subject of a formal charge.
Ronald Lamola’s position runs counter to the decision of his predecessor Michael Masutha, who had decided to extradite Manuel Chang to Mozambique to the detriment of the US justice request
Meanwhile, Verónica Macamo, president of the Mozambican parliament, announced on July 24 that the former Mozambican finance minister had resigned as a Member of the Assembly of the Republic and lost the immunity inherent to the post.
Manuel Chang has been in custody in South Africa since December 29 last year in connection with an extradition request from US justice authorities, which charge him with alleged fraud and corruption and want to him to be tried for his role in Mozambique’s so-called ‘hidden debts’ scandal.
Chang is also the target of an extradition request from Mozambican judicial authorities, who also want the former finance minister to be tried on the case.
The detention and extradition request of Manuel Chang is related to his role in providing guarantees by the former Mozambican government for the contracting of just over US$2 billion dollars in loans (over EUR 1.7 billion) to public companies in the area of maritime security and fishing without the knowledge of the Assembly of the Republic or the Administrative Court.
The operation that led to hidden debts is the subject of lawsuits in Mozambique and the US, which maintains that its own legislation was violated, and several people, including international bankers, are now detained for alleged involvement in the scandal.Source: Lusa