Abuses in Mozambican administrative tribunal under investigation

Mozambican Justice Minister Benvinda Levi on Thursday assured the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that the financial irregularities detected in the administration of the Administrative Tribunal, the body that oversees the legality of state expenditure are being investigated.

During a debate on government amendments to the legislation on administrative disputes, opposition deputies queried the transparency of the Administrative Tribunal. Deputies from the main opposition party, Renamo, asked what the point was of amending the law when the body that is supposed to implement it had been caught committing serious financial abuses.

In August, the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) announced that it was investigating possible criminal practices at the Administrative Tribunal. This followed an audit, carried out by the consultancy firm Deloitte and Touche, which alleged irregularities in tendering, improper advance payment to suppliers, payment of undue allowances, and the hiring of Tribunal staff themselves as consultants. The total amount of money involved in these practices was around 170 million meticais (about 5.7 million US dollars).

It was highly embarrassing that the Administrative Tribunal, which is the highest audit body in Mozambique, should have been found so wanting in its own procedures by an international auditing company.

It was hardly surprising the Renamo deputies seized on the audit, and protested that nobody had yet been arrested in connections with the case. “More than ever, Mozambicans understand today why financial abuses never have faces, and why audits never have any outcome. It’s because it’s all between comrades”, exclaimed one Renamo member.

Levy called for calm and insisted “this case is with the relevant institutions and is being investigated. The best thing to do is wait for the results”.

The amendments to the law (drawn up before the Deloitte and Touche audit) are largely technical and seek to decentralize the power of inspecting the acts of the state administration down to provincial level administrative tribunals.

Levi said the law was ten years old, and was now out of date and difficult to use. Furthermore, with the creation of provincial tribunals it made no sense to concentrate key functions of administrative law solely in the Administrative Tribunal in Maputo.

A second government bill concerned the organisation and operation of the Third Section of the Administrative Tribunal.

Both bills passed their first reading with the majority Frelimo Party and Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voting in favour, while the Renamo deputies all abstained.

Meanwhile, there have been further delays in submitting the amended Penal Code to the Assembly. The chairperson of the Assembly’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Commission, Teodoro Waty, admitted that his commission had not completed its work on the Code, even though the draft had been submitted by the government in 2011.

Waty hoped that the final version of the Code would be ready for debate in the Assembly plenary after the municipal elections, scheduled for 20 November.

The new Penal Code is part of the government’s package of anti-corruption measures.

Post published in: Africa News

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