21 December 2012

Mozambique: Frelimo Voters "will Go to Hell"

Maputo — Anyone who votes for Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party “will go to hell”, because “the Frelimo government is the work of Satan”, declared Armindo Milaco, a senior figure in the former rebel movement Renamo, on Friday.

Milaco’s excursion into theology came in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, during a debate on what should have been a purely formal motion appointing members to the Central Public Ethics Commission (CCEP), the body instituted under the Law on Public Probity to deal with conflicts of interest.

The CCEP consists of nine members, three appointed by the government, three by the Assembly, and three from the legal system.

As always, the Assembly’s appointees are chosen in proportion to the number of seats each party holds in parliament. Thus Frelimo appoints two of the Assembly’s three nominees, and Renamo appoints one. There is no point in discussing the names, since they are voted on as a bloc.

Frelimo’ s two appointees were Methodist pastor Jamisse Taimo, who headed the National Elections Commission (CNE) that supervised the 1999 general elections, and Carlos Machili, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Pedagogic University, which is now the largest institution of higher education in the country. Renamo nominated mathematician Andre Magibire.

Although there was no chance of changing any of these names, Milaco launched a vitriolic attack against Taimo, accusing him of whitewashing fraud supposedly committed by Frelimo in 1999. He poured scorn on the official results from that year. How could Frelimo possible have won, he asked, when Renamo topped the poll in six provinces, and Frelimo in only four, plus Maputo City? (The answer is simple: Frelimo had more votes than Renamo, and the number of provinces is irrelevant.)

But Milaco was more concerned at Taimo’s religious position. How could a man of God possibly support Frelimo? When Frelimo came to power in 1975, “they said that God doesn’t exist. They said that man came from monkeys”.

“Frelimo is the enemy of God”, he declared. “Frelimo is Satanic. Frelimo’s policies are Satanic doctrine. People who vote for Frelimo go to hell”.

He urged Taimo to withdraw from the CCEP. To wild applause from the Renamo benches, he said “You have to choose – either Frelimo or God”.

Frelimo deputy Danilu Ragu found it strange that, rather than pointing to the virtues of Renamo’s own candidate, Milaco had chosen to denounce a Frelimo candidate. “We don’t cast aspersions on candidates chosen by other parliamentary groups”, he said.

Milaco’s intervention was futile, since there was no chance of changing the resolution, which was eventually passed unanimously.

The Law on Public Probity states that public servants must refrain from taking decisions, signing contracts, or undertaking any other act, whenever they are in a potential conflict of interests.

The rules and procedures for preventing conflicts of interest are to be established by the CCEP.

The law also obliges all elected and appointed political officials to declare their assets.

This obligation extends to all judges, all public prosecutors, all managers in the central and local state apparatus, directors of the Bank of Mozambique, senior staff in the Mozambique Tax Authority, managers of the assets of the armed forces and the police, and the managers of public institutes, funds and foundations, of public companies and of companies in which the state holds shares.

There should be thousands of these declarations, which must be deposited with the Attorney-General’s Office (with the exception of declarations from public prosecutors, which will be deposited with the Administrative Tribunal).

To date nobody has obeyed this instruction because the law also states that the declarations will be made on a form to be designed by the CCEP. Since the CCEP has not yet take office, the forms on which the assets must be declared do not yet exist.

Thee model form should be available within 60 days of the law taking effect – which would be mid-January. It seems unlikely that this deadline will be met, since neither the government nor the legal bodies (the Higher Councils of the Judicial Magistracy, the Administrative Magistracy, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office) have yet appointed their members to the CCEP.

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