Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday demanded a more vigorous fight against corruption from his new government.
Speaking in Maputo, after swearing Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario and 16 other ministers into office, Nyusi described corruption as "a silent disease that is continuing to weaken the Mozambican state. It is one of the main obstacles to the development of our country".
To attain its goals, he added, the government must be based on qualities and values that honour the Mozambican people. Hence the stance taken by ministers must accept "the highest principles of ethics, such as transparency, integrity, the primacy of the law, loyalty, humility, impartiality, equity and social justice".
They must "use resources rationally and be intolerant of corruption", he added. They should be "prototypes of integrity, for if a member of the government has no integrity, he will not be able to condemn a subordinate who is dishonest".
"Do not lose sight of the fact that you have been appointed to serve the state, and not to make use of the state", he told the ministers. They should be aware that "as from now, you will be supervised and monitored by our people, the employer whom we serve".
The Mozambican state is the main victim of corruption, he argued, because it receives assets or building work of low quality despite high costs. Corruption also affects the business environment with implications for Mozambique's international rankings, and does not allow citizens to enjoy economic and social stability.
If the government is to win the battle against corruption, he continued, government members must lead by example.
"It is your duty to identify foci of corruption in the sectors you will now be heading", said Nyusi, "and to send cases to the relevant authorities, so that the offenders will be held responsible".
He stressed that he did not ask to see Frelimo Party membership cards from any of the ministers he appointed. They appointment was, he said, due solely to their competence and his trust in their abilities.
Nyusi urged them "to value the trust placed in them by complying to the full with the oath they have taken today".
The President also stressed the need for the ministers to ensure that the public sector is properly monitored and that the riches that abound in Mozambique are not wasted.
"We feel that the role of inspection is still insignificant", he said. "We are losing a lot of wealth from our seas and inland waters. I want to see an inspection similar to that we saw with Operation Trunk, our intervention in the forestry sector".
Operation Trunk was an offensive launched in 2017 against illegal timber operations. Dozens of timber yards, many owned by Chinese companies, were inspected, and in 75 per cent of cases illegalities were found. Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of illegally logged timber were seized, much of which was later used to produce school desks.
Nyusi warned that serious inspection "will cause a lot of noise", coming from people who criticize the government, but also steal the country's resources.