Mozambique: Bar Association Chair Says Secret Debt Is 'Odious' and Should Not Be Paid

Mozambicans Against Corruption

The $2 billion secret debt "is of criminal origin, commonly known as odious debts" and "the Mozambican Bar Association will initiate investigations abroad to explore the possibility that Mozambicans will not be obliged to pay debts," said Dr Flavio Menete, chair of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM), at the 1 February ceremony to launch the 2019 judicial year.

He continued that in 2015 when the debt became public the Bar Association (OAM) "said there was a need to treat this process with the seriousness it deserves, to prevent the Mozambican justice falling into complete disrepute. We were right: disrepute is a sad reality today, with obvious signs that we have lost control of the situation and try to rescue ourselves from indefensible cases. With every passing day, the Kempton Park court in South Africa, similar to a municipal court in our country, has been putting on the table letters that embarrass our system of administration of justice, Here the question is whether we are facing incapacity or whether, instead, the criteria of legality and impartiality has been put in a drawer and forgotten."

Other points made by Dr Manete included:

  • Municipal elections "were characterized by a lack of transparency and action by administrative and judicial bodies, which left much to be desired. We have to rethink our electoral law, but we must also make a more adequate interpretation" - clear reference to the bizarre rulings that being illegally excluded from a meeting can only be challenged at the meeting the person was not allowed to attend. "May we suggest that electoral legislation be guided by national interests rather than by the two major political formations."
  • "Once again, the police shamed themselves by the refusal to prevent supporters of the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) wearing T-shirts with inscriptions of repudiation and indignation against the payment of illegal secret debts. The Mozambican Bar Association condemns this position of the police and calls for respect for the freedom of expression and thought enshrined in our Constitution."
  • Cabo Delgado journalist Amad Abubacar was beaten and starved while in military detention, according to the human rights commission of the Bar Association. A team from the commission met with Abubacar last week in the Nieze prison in Pemba, where he is currently being held. (O Pais 31 Jan) But Dr Manete says "Amade Abubacar was held for 13 days in captivity, in military installations and tortured, yet the judge validated his detention and kept him in prison. This is a legal aberration. The journalist did not commit any infraction, but it was he who was deprived of exercising the right to inform society of what is happening in Cabo Delgado, the scene of barbaric attacks." Manete continued: "The Public Prosecutor's Office has failed to secure the release of journalist Amade Abubacar, who has been illegally arrested and isolated in a military establishment, but has been engaged in titanic efforts to avoid extradition of Manuel Chang, which leads us to conclude that it does not carry out is job in an impartial manner."

Coming from the head of the Bar Association, these rapid fire criticisms carry weight.

Thank the police

We should thank the police, argues Carta de Mocambique columnist Juma Aiuba. "If it wasn't for the police, many people wouldn't have known that CIP was promoting a campaign with free t-shirts saying 'I won't pay the secret debt'. … The regime is creating heroes without seeing that they are transforming dwarfs into giants and sardines into whales. Who was Amade Abubacar? An 'invisible' journalist on a community radio who, thanks to the regime, has become a hero. … To become a hero today, you only have to exercise your rights as a citizen."

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