Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday warned that development cannot be achieved without eliminating corruption.
Speaking at the launch in Maputo of the Strategic Plan of the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption for the period 2018-2022, Nyusi stressed that the battle against corruption is a top priority for the Mozambican state and for his governance, and called for “implacable” measures.
“We must strike at the root of the problem in order to do away with corruption before this malign phenomenon does away with us”, he declared.
He noted that corruption is expressed differently in different countries and is often linked to levels of poverty. There was a dynamic interplay between corruption and poverty, in which corruption is blamed on poverty and poverty is blamed on corruption.
Nyusi rejected the argument that it is not worth bothering with petty corruption, and the anti-corruption office should only target large scale corruption. “Grand corruption starts with petty corruption”, he said. “Our tolerance of petty corruption leads to great corruption.
He was pleased that the new Strategic Plan stresses the need for cooperation between the public and private sectors, stressing “nobody is corrupted without there being a corruptor”.
“You can't dissociate the corrupt from the corruptor”, said Nyusi. “Success can only be achieved in the fight against corruption, if everybody takes part in this struggle”.
He hoped the Strategic Plan would make the GCCC “a strong organisation fit for purpose”, and asked “How can the GCCC become a body of reference that inspires trust in citizens?”
Public institutions, Nyusi stressed, should be staffed “with high ethical standards” and should be “a mirror of integrity”.
The director of the GCCC, Ana Maria Gemo, declared that the mission of the office is “to promote a culture of transparency, integrity and good governance, seeking the harmonious economic and social development of the country”.
Among the goals of the new Strategic Plan, she said, was “to improve the existing legal framework for the effective punishment of corruption and connected crime”. Mozambican legislation should be pulled into line with international anti-corruption law and particularly the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
To date the GCCC has concentrated almost exclusively on government and public sector corruption. Gemo wanted to cast the net wider and look at corruption in the private sector. She said consideration should be given to making over-invoicing a criminal offence, and to cracking down on those who deliberately violate the rules of public tenders, to guarantee that contracts go to particular bidders.
She insisted that prison terms are not sufficient punishment for officials found guilty of corruption or embezzlement, and demanded that they must return all the money they have stolen. Furthermore, she called for the preventive seizure of assets from suspects and argued that sentences for crimes of corruption should never be suspended.
Gemo hoped to see coordination between the GCCC and the courts in order to speed up corruption cases. The Strategic Plan suggests setting up specialist sections in the courts to deal with corruption cases.
The Plan also calls for endowing the GCCC with greater capacity to supervise cases sent to the courts, and for training courses to build the capacity of investigators, prosecutors and judges to handle corruption cases.
Currently the GCCC only has branches in three provinces, and a fourth is now being set up. 17 prosecutors work at the GCCC, six at the Maputo headquarters and the others in the provinces, assisted by 20 agents of the criminal investigations service (SERNIC), three auditors and 69 other staff members