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21st Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

UK & Mozambique’s corrupt fight back : attempts at clean governance fail

Portuguese banker António Horta-Osório has been pushed out only nine months after he took over as chair of Credit Suisse to try to clean up a huge mess in lending, of which the $2bn secret loan to Mozambique was just one part. Officially he left because of breaking Covid-19 restrictions, but that is widely seen as an excuse to replace someone rocking a corrupt boat. He replaced Tidjane Thiam who had been pushed out in 2019.

Britain’s attempt to adopt Mozambique’s system of giving contracts to party people has been ruled illegal, but it appears the ruling will be ignored. The UK High Court on 12 January ruled that the operation of a VIP lane for suppliers of Covid-19 personal protective equipment recommended through the ruling Conservative Party was “illegal”. The case involved a challenge to two contracts, for face masks and gowns which could not be used. (Guardian 12 Jan)

A New York Times investigation found that about half of $22 billion British government pandemic-related contracts “went to companies with political connections, no prior experience or histories of controversy”. There was a secret VIP lane “for favoured companies, which proved to be 10 times more likely to win contracts than those outside that group”.
(17 Dec 2020; UK was adopting what has long been Mozambique practice for awarding contracts.

But it is clear that the UK will continue to follow the Mozambican model. The UK Treasury minister for counter-fraud, Lord Agnew, on Monday staged a dramatic public resignation over the government’s decision to write off nearly $6bn in fraudulent Covid loans. He said: “Schoolboy errors were made: for example, allowing over 1,000 companies to receive ‘bounce-back loans’ that were not even trading when Covid struck.” (Guardian 24 Jan)

Agriculture Fund head named to clean up is being smeared in a campaign to support her predecessor, who was convicted of a major fraud but is still out of jail, according to Carta de Moçambique (24 Jan). In 2018, previous Director General Setina Titosse was condemned to 16 years in prison for defrauding the Fundo de Desenvolvimento Agrario (FDA) of $3 mn, although she is still free as she has appealed. Titosse used a sophisticated scheme to paying high salaries to a wide range of Ministry of Agriculture staff by manipulating the electronic payments system and collecting part of the money. The highly respected Adélia Perpétua Magaia was named director general of the FDA last year and moved to make payments more transparent. This obviously hits those in the FDA and Ministry who benefit from inflated salaries, some of whom are now circulating an anonymous letter on social media attacking her.

Source: Mozambique News Reports and Clippings


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