The opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) party has criticized the mayor of the northern city of Nampula, Mahamaudo Amurane, who is a senior MDM figure, for attacking the party over corruption.

A week ago, Amurane accused the MDM of waging a campaign to damage his image, The MDM wanted to denigrate him, he claimed, “because I will not do deals with corruption”.

According to a report in Monday’s issue of the independent daily O Pais, the MDM has now responded, criticizing Amurane for attacking the party as a whole rather than naming the individual members responsible for the alleged campaign against him.

After a meeting in Maputo on Sunday, chaired by MDM leader and mayor of Beira Daviz Simango, MDM parliamentary deputy Silverio Ronguane told reporters “we have no doubt that the way in which our colleague presented his arguments was unfortunate, because he accused the entire MDM”.

This dispute erupted in late January when the Nampula delegation of the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) ordered the detention of 11 staff of the Nampula Municipal Council, including the city councilor for finance, on charges of falsifying documents. Seven were arrested, and the other four have gone into hiding.

All 11 worked in the Nampula City single attendance counter (BAU), which is supposed to smooth the path for businesses applying for licences, permits and the like. According to the GCCC, those detained were involved in a scheme to forge invoices, receipts and other documents, and pocketed the money paid by users of the BAU.

According to O Pais, Amurane led this drive against corruption, and provided key information to the GCCC. Relatives of those arrested demonstrated outside the Nampula provincial prison, where they were being held, and some claimed that the money stolen had gone into the pocket of Amurrane himself, for a house he was supposedly buying in Portugal.

Amurane said it is true that his children are in Portugal – but he told reporters he is renting a house for them out of his own money, and these payments have nothing to do with the municipality. He could show reporters invoices for this rent.

Ronguane said the MDM leadership agrees with the way Amurane had handled corruption in the municipality, and urged the central government to follow his example.