Saturday, May 26, 2007

Yesterday morning a mysterious fire broke out at the Ministry of Agriculture (a huge, curved building that any visitor to Moz will pass as they drive in from the airport). It started at about 6am so no one was hurt (state functionaries start work at 7am).

Given that it only destroyed the economics, finance and accounting departments, the general opinion here seems to be that it was set on purpose, to cover up misuse of funds.

Now, of course, the government will plead for (and get) from the donors, a big handout to rebuild a spanking new ministry. Instead of, say, doing anything useful like:
- rural feeder roads
- rural marketplaces
- provincial main roads
- agricultural extension
- regulating oligopolies in the distribution and wholesaling of agricultural produce

ho hum...

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Sunday, May 06, 2007


A refreshing change from the normal tide of "the badder you are, the more likely you are to get away with it", which is the usual rule here in Moz.

A week or so ago three supposed criminals were taken from their homes by the police and held without charge in cells. One of them managed to get a call to his lawyer but by the time the lawyer got to the station, the guys had been moved to location unknown. A few hours later, they were taken to the area of Triunfo, Maputo's north-east corner, and shot several times each, in the back of the neck. Many residents who observed parts of what happens, went to the press (the independent press, obviously) to complain.

The case became a scandal among Maputo's equivalent of the chattering classes, and the PGR (equivalent of the Attorney General), for once investigated the subject thoroughly and soon emitted a report stating categorically that the killings were illegal executions, perpetrated by a death squad within the police. Based on this, the PGR emitted arrest warrants for the 3 police officers involved.

In response to this...
a. The police simply refused to arrest their own men and emitted their own report saying that the 3 criminals had somehow managed to break their handcuffs and escaped while trying to flee.
b. The Minister of the Interior (responsible for the police), categorically denied that death squads.
c. The vice minister of the interior admitted that actually they might exist.

At least, with this kind of public outcry, we have less risk of creeping into a Rio de Janeiro style situation where the police still perform dozens of extra-judicial killings every year.

One would hope, however, that the head of state would step in to remind the Police that, according to the constitution, they do not have any option about executing the arrest warrants issued by the PGR.

Meanwhile, the donors gave the government a generally glowing report, although they moaned a bit about the feeble progress in combatting corruption. But since they all live in fortresses in Somerschield and will certainly get somewhere classier on their next promotion, who's to rock the boat.

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