District Administrator Accused of Illegal Campaign Funding
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The administrator of Barue district, in the central Mozambican province of Manica, Joaquim Zefanias, and the permanent secretary of the Barue district government, Francisco Conde, raided the district administration's bank account in order to pay 67,000 meticais (about 2,200 US dollars) towards the election campaign of the ruling Frelimo party, and to pay Frelimo invoices, according to an investigation undertaken by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP).
Frelimo, however, denies that there is any truth in the accusations, and says that since the party has been raising funds for these elections for the past four years, it would hardly violate the law just for an extra two thousand dollars.
In its latest newsletter, CIP publishes a letter from Zefanias to Conde, dated 29 August, in which the administrator demands payment of a Frelimo telecommunications invoice to the sun of slightly more than 8,000 meticais, money to pay for three head of cattle, and fuel for a truck "that will collect campaign materials in Chimoio (the provincial capital)".
Zefanias added "we are requested to contribute towards feeding the VIPS who will visit the district because of the elections campaign". He urged Conde to work urgently on all these requirements.
Conde's reply was a handwritten note, marked "very urgent", proposing the withdrawal of 67,000 meticais from the administration account. In addition to the telecommunications invoice, this was to include 30,000 meticais for the three head of cattle and 27.755 meticais for 700 litres of fuel.
Zefanias and Conde then allegedly signed three cheques to withdraw the money from the district administration account. One cheque was to pay the telecommunications company, TDM, 8,189.23 meticais. Another was made out to Amilcar Hussein, the man supplying the cattle, which would presumably be used to feed the VIPs whom Zefanias mentioned.
The third cheque, for 31,046.77 meticais, was made out to the district government itself, and was intended to pay for the campaign expanses, notably the fuel,
As evidence for these allegations, CIP publishes copies of the three cheques, and of the handwritten correspondence between Zefanias and Conde. These two documents both bear the official stamp of the Barue district government.
The documents appear genuine, and thus suggest that the two officials violated the electoral law, which bans political parties from using state assets in their election campaigns.
CIP urges intervention by the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate "this flagrant situation of the diversion of state funds for private purposes". Action by the Public Prosecutor, it adds, "should be public and transparent in order to serve as an example to other state leaders that state funds must not be diverted to serve the interests of the ruling party".
Contacted by AIM on Monday, the Frelimo Central Committee Secretary for Mobilisation and Propaganda, Damiao Jose, said the claims could not possibly be true.
"Our party is very organised", he said. "Frelimo has been preparing for these general elections ever since the last ones in 2009. We have been raising money from party members. In addition to the normal party membership dues, we have an additional quota paid by militants to cover the election costs".
"We have no need to break the law", he added. "Frelimo does not need an extra 67,000 meticais". As for the cheques, Jose was sure there would be a legitimate explanation for them.
Paulo Cuinica, the spokesperson for the National Elections Commission (CNE), told AIM that the CNE is looking into the CIP claims.
"We don't yet have the data", he said. "We have activated the mechanisms to find out what was going on in Barue".
Copyright Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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