Maputo — The Zambezia Provincial Court in central Mozambique has sentenced a driver from Quelimane Central Hospital to four days imprisonment for using a state vehicle in election campaign activities.
A report on Radio Mozambique said the driver was campaigning for a political party whose name was not mentioned.
While the court spokesperson, Mauro Chitsondzo, who announced the sentence, may not have revealed the party's name, anyone who follows social media knows it was the ruling Frelimo Party.
The hospital minibus was filmed taking Frelimo supporters, waving Frelimo flags, to party activities on 25 September, the first day of the municipal election campaign. That image has been repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times, on Facebook and other social media.
The driver, Abibo Martins Albino, was also fined ten days of the minimum wage in the public administration (about 1,400 meticais - 23 US dollars at current exchange rate).
Chitsondzo said "He's a driver at the Quelimane Central Hospital. At the hearing he did not name any other official or worker as participating in the offence, except the head of the transport sector who authorised the use of the vehicle".
During the trial the public prosecutor's office urged the judge to acquit Albino. When the judge declined to take this advice, the prosecutor announced that he would appeal against the sentence.
It has always been illegal to use state assets such as vehicles in political party election campaigns, but in most past cases nobody has been prosecuted, even though the media has sometimes published the number plates of the vehicles used.
In this campaign there seems to have less use of state vehicles. But a large minibus, with the words "Quelimane Central Hospital" emblazoned on its side, could not go unnoticed, and the driver has paid the price for such a blatant abuse.