Maputo — The Mozambican Confederation of Business Associations (CTA) in February hired a plane from a company part owned by CTA chairperson, Rogerio Manuel, reports Friday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.
The plane belongs to the company CR Aviation, which is 49 per cent owned by Manuel. It was used to carry members of the CTA Managing Council around the country from 15 to 20 February, to attend the election of the Chairpersons of the Provincial Economic Councils.
Hiring the plane from CR Aviation for five days cost the CTA 1.4 million meticais (about 29,000 US dollars).
“Mediafax” says that this was the best price the CTA could obtain on the Mozambican civil aviation market - even so the paper regards the hiring as a clear conflict of interests.
“Mediafax” adds that the incident has concerned some of the foreign bodies that finance the CTA, since it violates ethical principles.
The paper tried to contact the CTA executive management, which did not reply to the “Mediafax” phone calls. However, Manuel himself did speak to the paper: he recognized that a CR Aviation plane had indeed been hired, but said the operation obeyed all the necessary requirements.
Manuel said the executive management dealt with hiring the plane, and at no time was he personally involved.
But, since it was his company, he followed up the matter, and reached the conclusion that CR Aviation offered the cheapest rates on the market, and was the only Mozambican air company operating small planes that can carry up to ten passengers.
The CTA investigated using the scheduled flights of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), he claimed, but found the connections would have been very inconvenient. Thus it was not possible to travel between the northern cities of Pemba and Lichinga: anyone wishing to do so would have to go via Maputo, he said.
Using LAM would also mean spending days in each of the provinces, he alleged, while the hotel bills piled up.
Manuel must imagine that journalists are incapable of consulting airline timetables. His claims about LAM are simply untrue. While there is indeed no direct flight between Pemba and Lichinga, you do not have to make a huge detour via Maputo to travel between the two cities. There are flights, lasting less than an hour, from both Pemba and Lichinga to Nampula, the largest city in northern Mozambique. It would have been entirely possible to coordinate the CTA provincial elections with the LAM timetable.
Manuel said the CTA had looked into hiring a plane from LAM's sister company, MEX, but found the company only had planes for 20 or more passengers, while the CTA delegation consisted of eight people. It would thus have been more expensive to use a MEX plane, and the same was true of hiring from a South African company.
Manuel reached the convenient conclusion that CR Aviation was the cheapest option. “We managed to do our work in five days without many accommodation or meals costs, or other expenses”, he said.