Mozambique: “Solid Evidence” of Corruption in Britalar Case


Maputo — Mozambique’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) believes there is solid evidence of corruption in the award to a consortium headed by the Portuguese company Britalar of the contract to rebuild one of Maputo’s main thoroughfares, Julius Nyerere Avenue.

The GCCC investigation began after major defects in the supposedly rehabilitated road were noted. The consortium was formed by Britalar, and two other Portuguese companies, Europa Arlindo and Aurelio Sobreiro. Maputo Municipal Council awarded the contract to these companies, who received ten million euros (about 11 million US dollars) to rebuild the road.

But before the road was delivered to the Council, it began to disintegrate as huge cracks and potholes opened.

Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Thursday, GCCC spokesperson, Eduardo Sumana, said the contractors had clearly failed to abide by the terms of the contract.

The shoddy work done by the Britalar consortium was visible to the naked eye, and there was no sign of the job being finished. Yet instead of terminating the contract, the City Council extended it. Two extensions were granted, and in February 2013 the Mayor of Maputo, Daviz Simango, even declared that Britalar would complete the road within the new deadlines.

But it did not do so, and it was only in January 2015 that the Council terminated the contract. By then, samples of the materials used by Britalar had been collected and sent to three laboratories, two in Mozambique and one in Portugal. All the laboratories agreed that the road had started to crumble away because of the poor quality of the materials.

There were strong suspicions the Britalar had run out of money. Britalar in Portugal, in late 2012, announced an accumulated debt of over ten million euros, and several of its creditors demanded that the company be declared bankrupt.

Sumana revealed little that was not already known – but he insisted there were “solid grounds” for believing that corruption was involved in the contract. However, he did not reveal what these were.

Despite the scandal of Julius Nyerere Avenue, Britalar continued to win contracts – with fatal consequences. Britalar was the contractor on a building site in downtown Maputo, where a 17 storey office block for the National Social Security Institute (INSS) was being built. On 14 July badly assembled scaffolding collapsed, killed five building workers. Britalar, as the contractor, has been held responsible for the collapse.

Sumana also announced that ten customs staff and one clerk at the Sofala Provincial Administrative Tribunal have been charged with corruption and are awaiting trial in Beira.

The 11 accused are charged with forging customs clearance documents for 47 imported vehicles, and appropriating for themselves the money that should have been paid to the state in taxes. The corrupt scheme was in operation for a year, and the group managed to steal over 20 million meticais (about 491,000 US dollars at current exchange rates).

A former mayor is also facing corruption charges.

Sumana said that Jorge Macuacua, the former mayor of Chokwe, in the southern province of Gaza, is currently on trial accused of the theft of state funds in 2009-2010.

This sheds some light on why the ruling Frelimo Party, in July 2011, demanded that Macuacua resign as mayor. He was one of five mayors whose performance worried Frelimo so much that the party asked for their resignations.

Three of them (Pio Matos in Quelimane, Sadique Yacub in Pemba, and Arnaldo Maloa in Cuamba) obeyed their party, and mayoral by-elections were duly held in those cities later in 2011. But Macuacua defied Frelimo, as did the mayor of Manhica, Alberto Chicamba. They both completed their terms as mayor, but were not reselected as candidates for the subsequent municipal elections in 2013.

Source: All Africa

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