10 December 2012

Mozambique: Corrupt Officials Must Go, Says Attorney-General

Maputo — Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Augusto Paulino, on Monday called for the removal of all corrupt judges, attorneys and law officers from the country’s legal system.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Attorney-General’s Office, Paulino declared “We must purify our own ranks.

Let us be free of corrupt magistrates or officials, because you cannot use corrupt people to fight against corruption”.

But ordinary citizens must also play their part. “In the case of street corruption, it is often the motorist who slips a banknote into his driving license, so that the police won’t fine him”, said Paulino. “Fortunately there are courageous policemen who resist the temptation, refuse the bribe and arrest the offenders”.

Corruption, he insisted, “remains a cancer within Mozambican society and within our state apparatus. We must find ways of responding effectively to the clamour of our people, and must not remain indifferent, as if nothing were happening”.

Advances had been made in bringing cases of corruption to trial, Paulino said, but he was concerned that the anti-corruption messages are not reaching ordinary people. “In the meetings and lectures we hold, we have been systematically speaking with the same people, with public functionaries at various levels and we don’t speak very much with the people”, he remarked. “Our talks are given in air-conditioned rooms, and not underneath cashew trees with the people”.

Nor should attorneys imagine that it was enough to speak on television or radio. “The Mozambican people is more than those who watch television or listen to radio”, said Paulino, “and our people should feel that they are participating democratically in the collective debates about the struggle against corruption”.

Paulino told his audience that during the three day meeting he did not want to hear any excuses for poor work. He would not accept attorneys telling him they could not do their job properly because they did not have enough money or resources – “because, if you say that, you will not be telling us anything new, it’s not a discovery, and because when we were appointed to our jobs, none of us were unaware of the paucity of resources in the Mozambican state”.

“Each of us must show what actions we have undertaken creatively to overcome the difficulties, even without an abundance of resources”, he urged.

The key area, Paulino insisted, was the right of citizens to receive a speedy response to their concerns. Criminal proceedings in particular must be speeded up – and that was largely a responsibility of public prosecutors.

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