21 January 2013

Mozambique: Deputies Resign From Roads Administration

Maputo — Two parliamentary deputies from Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party have left their posts in the National Roads Administration (ANE), in what appears to be the first move by parliamentarians to obey the Law on Public Probity, approved last year.

The Minister of Public Works, Cadmiel Muthemba, has relieved the chairperson of the ANE, Luciano de Castro, and a member of the ANE board, Agostinho Vuma, of their duties. Joaquim Cossa, an advisor to the Minister, told AIM that the two deputies asked to leave their posts in letters sent to Muthemba in December,

The Minister thus acted at the express request of the two deputies. No reason was given for the two resignations – but remaining in paid positions in the ANE would have brought Castro and Vuma into clear conflict with the Law on Public Probity.

In order to avoid conflicts of interest, the law decrees that no holders of public office may receive wages or fees from other public institutions or companies.

The law lists the officials covered and they range from the President of the Republic down to village headmen. They include all ministers, deputy ministers, provincial governors, district administrators, mayors and municipal councillors, as well as parliamentary deputies.

The law took effect on 15 November last year. As from that date the holders of public office who were being paid by more than one public body were in breach of the law. They had to choose – and in the case of deputies, that meant they should either have resigned their parliamentary seats, or given up their other paid positions.

But initially none of the deputies concerned stepped down from their other positions. The first to do are Castro and Vuma, who have now brought their personal affairs into line with the requirements of the Law on Public Probity.

The other deputies who should make this choice include the head of the Frelimo parliamentary group, Margarida Talapa, who sits on the board of the publicly owned mobile phone company, M-Cel, the chairperson of the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission, Teodoro Waty, who is also chairperson of the board of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), and Mateus Katupha, who is the chairperson of the state fuel company, Petromoc, but also a member of the Assembly’s Standing Commission.

If it is confirmed that concern to respect the Law on Public Probity lay behind the letters of resignation from Castro and Vuma, they will have put into practice Article 48 of the law which states that it is the individual responsibility of public servants “to identify and manage personal situations of conflict of interest”.

Public servants who do not resolve their conflicts of interest run the risk that acts they undertake or contracts they sign may be declared null and void, and in the most serious cases, they could face criminal proceedings.

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