8 February 2013

Mozambique: Public Ethics Commission Begins Work

Maputo — Mozambique’s Central Public Ethics Commission, set up under the Law on Public Probity that took effect in mid-November, has began to work and, according to its chairperson, Sinai Nhatitima, it is now open to receiving denunciations on possible conflicts of interests involving public servants.

Nhatitima was speaking to reporters on Friday after a working meeting of the Commission held to draw up a programme of activities to be undertaken in the immediate future.

He said that, in addition to receiving denunciations from members of the public, the Commission can only directly approach the countries sovereign bodies and other public institutions to ask about any conflicts of interests.

“The Commission is able to receive information from citizens or from any institutions concerning any aspects in which any person may be in conflict with the law, and on the basis of this the Commission will make its considerations”, said Nhatitima. “As from today, the Commission is open to receiving such information”.

He added that the commission is aware that people are expecting immediate results, and he asked for understanding, given that only now are the conditions being established for the Commisson to operate fully.

These necessary conditions, he claimed, included offices of its own, and internal regulations for the Commission’s operations and for its staff table. Currently the Commission is operating out of the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and is supported by a secretariat formed by staff members lent by the Assembly

“Our priority at the moment is our own internal organisation, but this does not prevent us from undertaking effective work”, said Nhatitima. “We shall not wait for our internal organisation to be completed before we begin to work on the existing cases”.

At the Friday meeting, he added, two sub-commissions were set up, one charged with drawing up a set of internal regulations, and the other with working out a staff table, detailing the support staff the Commission believes it will need.

The Commission has agreed that it will meet every Friday on the Assembly’s premises.

Under the law, the nine member Commission is charged with taking appropriate measures to prevent or eliminate conflicts of interest within the public administration, including referring cases to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for criminal proceedings.

The Commission has not yet taken any measures concerning the best-known conflicts of interest, which are the cases of parliamentary deputies who also sit on the boards of public companies.

The Law on Public Probity forbids all holders of public office from receiving 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.

Thus holders of public office who are currently being paid by more than one public body must choose. In the case of deputies, they must either resign their parliamentary seats, or give up their other paid positions.

The deputies who must 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.

Two deputies, Luciano de Castro and Agostinho Vuma, have shown a lead by resigning from the positions on the board of directors of the National Road Authority (ANE).

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