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File photo: Domingo
Anastacia Zitha, the former National Director of Migrant Labour in the Mozambican Labour Ministry, on Tuesday accused the Finance Ministry of failing to allocate resources to her directorate so that it could carry out its activities.
Zitha was speaking before the Maputo City Court, as she was questioned for the fourth day in the trial of 11 people, headed by former Labour Minister Helena Taipo, accused of stealing 113 million meticais (about 1.8 million dollars, at the current exchange rate) from the Migrant Labour Directorate (DTM) in 2014-15.
Zitha claimed the problem began in 2013, when the Finance Ministry informed the DTM that it would provide 91 million meticais in earmarked revenue, to which the institution was entitled. But the money never arrived, which endangered compliance with the DTM’s Economic and Social Plan.
So the DTM, in order to finance projects for the social reinsertion of former miners and their dependents dipped into other funds, including the fees paid by companies for hiring foreign labour and the account holding unclaimed wages of Mozambican miners working in South Africa. The DTM also raided the account holding the deferred wages of the miners. which should have been operated by the mine labour recruitment company, TEBA.
The decision to use these accounts violated normal procedures, but Zitha simply blamed the Finance Ministry. “The activities in the Economic and Social Plan would for the most part have been supported by the earmarked revenue”, she said, “but when this revenue was not sent by the Finance Ministry, the DTM was obliged to use part of the fees paid for hiring foreign labour”. (This was money which should have been channelled, in its entirety, to the Treasury).
She added that Taipo had protested to the Finance Ministry, and had informed it in a note of the decision to use the money from the fees that should have gone to the Treasury.
As for the falsification of invoices, receipts and contracts to justify expenditure. Zitha claimed this was not really forgery but just a financial management technique to regularize missing documents.
In other words, when expenditure could not be accounted for, the DTM cooked the books by inventing contracts and invoices.
Zitha said the money take from the accounts had all been reimbursed. Prosecutor Armando Paruque demanded that the Labour Ministry provide proof that the money had been reimbursed in the next seven days.