Mozambique: Tenants of State Housing May Face Eviction

Maputo — 424 tenants of the Mozambican government's Housing Promotion Fund (FFH) owe the FFH about three million US dollars in back rent, according to Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

Tired with years of non-payment, the FFH published the list of debtors on Monday in the Maputo daily paper "Noticias". The Fund says it is giving the debtors one last chance to regularise their situation. If they do not make proposals to the FFH as to how they will pay off the debt, the FFH will move to evict them. Indeed, some cases are already before the courts.

Publication of the list of names is having a salutary effect. The chairperson of the FFH, Armindo Munguambe, told "Mediafax" that "since we published the list, many people have come running to us to regularise their situation. We've given them all a deadline of 15 days to find ways of paying their debts before we move forward with evictions".

About two thirds of the debtors are occupying houses in the Olympic Village in the Maputo neighbourhood of Zimpeto, which was built for the All-Africa Games, held in Maputo in 2011.

The Olympic Village contains some 600 apartments, rented out to young people, particularly state employees. Munguambe recalled that a basic condition for people applying for these apartments is that they should have a monthly income of at least 21,000 meticais (328 US dollars at current exchange rates, but worth much more in 2011). With this income, they should have been able to pay the monthly rent of around 7,000 meticais.

Munguambe thus did not believe the tenants are unable to pay the rent. He told "Mediafax" that they are acting in bad faith or are simply abusing the trust the FFH deposited in them.

They may also believe that they are politically protected. "Mediafax" claims that most of the tenants are members of the Mozambican Youth Organisation (OJM), which is the youth wing of the ruling Frelimo Party.

There are some well known names on the list of debtors, including Renato Matusse, political advisor to former President Armando Guebuza, who is now on trial for his alleged role in the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts", Benedito Guimino, the mayor of the southern city of Inhambane, Carlos Mussanhane, the administrator of Mabote district in Inhambane province, and Claire Zimba, the former chairperson of the Institute for the Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (IPEME).

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