Maputo — Mozambique's National Public Ethics Commission is operating without any budget or office space of its own, according to a report by the independent television station, STV.
The matter was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the Standing Commission of the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. The Commission's spokesperson, Mateus Katupha, told reporters that the Law on Public Probity, which set up the Ethics Commission, did not envisage paying its members any allowances.
Hence the Commission's members are expected to meet their expenses out of their own pockets, and this is creating difficulties. “This observation was raised because we have a member of the Ethics Commission who comes from one of the provinces”, said Katupha. “When he reaches Maputo, he has had difficulties with accommodation and meals. The problem is not just with this one individual, but with the conception of the Commission, since the members don't draw any wages and are not paid any allowances”.
Katupha suggested that the Assembly would have to amend the Law on Public Probity in order to ensure that money is available to pay for the expenses of the Ethics Commission, so that it can do its work of inspecting the ethical behavior of public servants more effectively.
Katupha confirmed that the Standing Commission itself has not discussed recent cases in which government members have been involved in conflicts of interest. One of the most recent cases is that of Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita.
The case involved a contract granted by the country's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), without a public tender, to the company “Transportes Carlos Mesquita Ltd” (TCM). The Minister is one of the owners of the Mesquita Group, which is the main shareholder in TCM. The TCM contract was worth 20 million meticais (about 335,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates).
Katupha said the law is clear on the matter. “When a member of the government has a business activity and that activity conflicts with the sector where he is operating, he should refrain from dealing with the matter”, he said.
Mesquita appeared before the Central Ethics Commission in March. The Commission gave an opinion on the matter which it sent to the Minister and to the Ethics Commission in the Transport Ministry. Mesquita claims he did nothing illegal, and the case has yet to reach a definitive outcome.