Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, claims that it is shocked by the decision of the South African Justice Minister, Michael Masutha, to extradite former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang to Mozambique rather than to the United States to face charges of money laundering and fraud.
At a Maputo press conference on Wednesday Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas said the Mozambican legal system does not offer any guarantee that Chang will be held responsible for the damage caused to the Mozambican state by the gigantic fraud whereby, thanks to guarantees signed by Chang, three fraudulent, security linked companies obtained loans of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia.
Since there is no likelihood that the companies can ever repay the money, the loan guarantees mean that the Mozambican state becomes liable to repay the entire two billion.
Manteigas pointed to the failure of the Mozambican justice system to clear up high profile murder cases, such as those of constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac, in 2015, or of the economist Siba-Siba Macuacua, in 2001. Siba-Siba was killed while he was trying to collect the debts owed to the ruined privatised bank, Banco Austral.
Manteias also said Renamo feared for the safety of Chang, if he is returned to Mozambique, suggesting that he might be assassinated in order to keep his mouth shut.
Nonetheless, if Chang is indeed returned to Mozambique, Manteigas hoped that "for the first time in our history, the Mozambican justice system will scrupulously respect the law so that all those involved in the unconstitutional and illegal debts will be held responsible, and that they return what they have stolen to the Mozambican people".
No date has been set for Chang's extradition, so it seems unlikely that he will be returned to Mozambique in the immediate future. This gives the American authorities time to appeal, if they so wish, against Masutha's decision. In that case, the case would probably rise to the South African Supreme Court.