Mozambique: Frelimo Insists It Was ‘Misunderstood’ Over Debate On Debt

The parliamentary group of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party on Wednesday said that it was “misunderstood” when a month ago it voted against calling the government into the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, to be questioned about the country’s public debt.

The spokesperson for the Frelimo group, Edmundo Galiza Matos Junior, told a Maputo press conference that when the main opposition party, the rebel movement Renamo, submitted the proposal to question the government about the debt, the Assembly was about to interrupt its sitting for two months. There was not enough time to schedule a constructive debate.

Galiza-Matos said claims in the media that Frelimo refused to call the government to the Assembly were untrue. “No, we didn’t reject it”, he said. “We were ready to close the parliamentary session when the question was raised. We needed time for the government to organise itself better”.

He pointed out that, at the time, one of the key figures for such a debate, Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane, was out of the country, at the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

So at the time, the Frelimo group had said the presence of the government would not be opportune, and more time was needed so that the government could explain to the Mozambican people, through the Assembly, the question of undisclosed government-guaranteed loans, well in excess of a billion US dollars. Galiza-Matos said the Frelimo parliamentarian have every interest in knowing about the country’s economic situation.

In fact, back in April, when the Renamo proposal was thrown out, Frelimo speakers in that brief debate showed little interest in the debt. Indeed, the head of the Frelimo group, Margarida Talapa, stressed that the main concern of the Mozambican people is to ensure peace, and to that end Renamo should hand over all the guns that it illegally possesses.

“Let the government work. Hand over the guns and stop killing people”, she declared.

There were two large loans to state companies that neither the Mozambican public nor the IMF had been informed about. One of the loans (for 622 million dollars) was taken out by Proindicus, a company set up to offer security services to oil and gas companies operating off the northern Mozambican coast. The recipient of the second loan (for 535 million dollars) was Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), which is intended to provide maritime repair and maintenance services.

Earlier in the day, a senior Renamo deputy, Jose Manteigas, also gave a press conference calling for the Assembly to be reconvened early, so that the government could explain the public debt.

Manteigas protested that the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, met on Monday solely to discuss authorizing President Filipe Nyusi to make a state visit to China, a matter which Renamo considered “neither relevant, nor urgent”. So the Renamo members of the Commission boycotted that meeting.

But, as Manteigas must have known, the members of the Standing Commission can add other items to the agenda. And on Monday it was the Frelimo members of the Commission that added the issue of the public debt.

Hence it was thanks to Frelimo, rather than to Renamo, that the Standin Commission decided that, in the very near future, government members will be summoned before the Assembly’s working commissions on the Plan and Budget, and on Defence and Public Order, to answer questions on the debt. This will almost certainly be followed by a plenary session of the full Assembly on the debt, after it reconvenes in the second half of June.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique