Mozambique: Trial of Former Mayor of Maputo Postponed

Maputo — The trial of the former mayor of Maputo, David Simango, on corruption charges, scheduled to begin on Friday, has been postponed at the request of his lawyer.

The Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has charged Simango with abuse of office for an allegedly corrupt deal in which a company gave him a flat, in exchange for the rights to a plot of land where it wanted to build a condominium.

The GCCC argues that, in order to hide the true nature of the deal, the company concerned, Epsilon Investments, signed a contract in July 2011 with Simango's wife, Celestina Gonzaga, under which she promised to buy the flat.

The GCCC believes the contract was no more than a device to hide the true nature of the arrangement - which was that Epsilon gave the flat to the then mayor, in exchange for title to the land it wanted.

Nine years after signing the contract, Gonzaga, according to the GCCC, has not paid anything at all for the flat, even though the contractual price was 457,000 US dollars. Nor has the company invoked the contractual clauses allowing it to take action against Gonzaga for non-payment.

The GCCC says the flat has now been seized along with 122,000 meticais in rent pad by its last tenant.

But matters may not be as simple as the GCCC portrays them. For, according to Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", Epsilon Investments was granted title to the land, not when Simango was mayor of the city (between 2008 and 2018), but over a decade earlier when the mayor was Joao Baptista Cosme.

Epsilon has already testified to this and claims that is commercial relation is only with Gonzaga and not with her husband. The company admits that Gonzaga has not paid in full for the flat, and for that reason it is still registered in the name of Epsilon.

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