According to Canal de Moçambique, the average citizen must have been deeply shocked to learn that the Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Mesquita, had signed a MoU on behalf of the government with four port utilities in Maputo, Beira, Nacala and Quelimane.
The MoU is aimed at granting exclusive operating benefits to these four companies, as well as at revitalising the cabotage sector.
So far, so good. However, what the public might not know, according to Canal de Moçambique, is that Minister Mesquita technically signed those contracts with himself. The report explains that Minister Mesquita is the same Carlos Mesquita that owns both Cornelder de Moçambique and Cornelder Quelimane, two of the four companies with whom the minister signed the MoU for the concession of facilities.
In the light of that memorandum, there will be a reduction of port fees by 60% in the Port of Beira and 50% in the ports of Maputo, Nacala, Quelimane and Pemba. The MoU also provides for a 40% reduction in service fees charged to cabotage operators by the Marine National Institute, as well as the reduction in fees charged by the National Institute of Hydrography and Navigation.
Cornelder de Moçambique SARL is a partnership between the company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique EP (CFM) and Dutch company Cornelder BV. Minister Mesquita is the former chairman on the Board of Directors of Cornelder de Moçambique SARL. When he was appointed minister in 2015, his brother stayed on at Cornelder Moçambique SARL in his place.
Cornelder Quelimane is directly owned by the minister. It was founded in July 2004 for the purpose of managing and operating the Port of Quelimane. Cornelder Quelimane is owned by Dutch multinational Cornelder BV and CFM. The company’s partners include Minister Mesquita, Rui Fonseca (who, at the time of the company’s incorporation, was a member of the Board of Directors of CFM), Domingo Bainha (who was also a member of CFM’s Board at the time of the company’s incorporation), and Miguel Matabele.
Therefore, according to Canal de Moçambique, there is no doubt that Minister Mesquita is the owner of the two companies involved in the recently ratified MoU.
The Law on Public Probity is very clear as to the situation in which Minister Mesquita now finds himself. According to paragraph A of Article 25 of the Law 16/2012, of 14 August on Public Probity, it is forbidden for public servants to take advantage of their power or influence to make appointments or to take any other action that would result in personal benefit involving a privilege for himself, his family or friends, for remuneration or otherwise.
In this case, Minister Mesquita used his position as the Minister of Transport and Communications to create and put forward a MoU that would ultimately “put money in his pocket” via his ownership of the two Cornelders.
This is a blatant conflict of interest. According to Article 33 of the same Public Probity Law, it is a conflict of interest when a public servant’s personal interests interfere or may interfere with the performance of their duties, and with neutrality and impartiality in the public interest.
According to Canal de Moçambique, it is crystal clear that Minister Mesquita’s business directly benefited from this MoU.
It is expected that the minister and his cronies will argue that he had already resigned from Cornelder de Moçambique before the MoU was signed. But Article 37, in sub-paragraph C of the same Law on Public Probity, states that conflict of interest can arise from family relationships that benefit from situations in which public servants use their position to make decisions, commit an act or enter into a contract in which there is financial interest with any relative within the second degree of the collateral line.
As such, Canal de Moçambique concludes that, judging by his behaviour, the minister must believe that the Public Probity Law in force in the Republic of Mozambique does not apply to him.
The signing of the MoU was broadcast on television, thus demonstrating “transparent corruption” in Mozambique.
In the meantime, the Executive Director of the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), Osório Lucas, said that the concessionaires are in solidarity with the strategy developed by the government for the revitalisation of the maritime cabotage sector.
According to Lucas, the revitalisation of this sector will bring enormous economic and social benefits to the country.
Source: Canal de Moçambique/Jornal Notícias
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