Mozambique: Study On Coruption and Private Sector Launched

‘A society which comes to accept corruption as a normal practice, from schools up to the government, will not be a just society”. warned British High Commisisoner, Joanna Kuennsberg in Maputo on Tuesday.

“Corruption is above all an abuse of power, an injustice”, she said, at the launch of a study on corruption and the private sector, financed by the British government. The event was hosted by the High Commission and by the Mozambican Institute of Directors, and the study was carried out by the Ethics Institute of South Africa and by a Maputo consultancy company, MAP.

The fight against corruption, said Kuennsberg “will continue to be a priority for the United Kingdom in Mozambique. This study will help us design programmes, projects and activities against corruption, which are pertinent for the private sector”.

Corruption, she added, hits the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society hardest, and they “end up paying for the enrichment of a small group of individuals”.

When those who practice corruption go unpunished, this “reduces the motivation of companies to refrain from corrupt acts”, said the High Commissioner. “In Mozambique a major effort is needed to reverse this trend, to encourage ethical practices, and to condemn bribery, tax evasion and other immoral conduct”.

“The path is tough, the challenges are immense, and the risks are high, including for the physical integrity of the people involved”, Kuennsberg said. “But the cause is just – we are together in this struggle”.

Kuennsberg warned against the excessive red tape which still characterises the Mozambican business environment. Companies and citizens alike “find it difficult to meet all the requirements when the law demands too many documents for carrying out a particular activity”, she said. “And this bureaucratic excess creates opportunities for corruption”.

Through interviews with Mozambican business leaders, the study points to “bureaucratic corruption” related to “a vast range of bureaucratic procedures, such as requests for commercial licences, inspections, obtaining land, customs clearance and tax payment”.

This was a severe problem for small and medium companies “who often do not have the management skills or the financial means to comply with what is regarded as a heavy regulatory environment”.

The interviewees, the study says, “believe that many companies become involved in corruption just as a matter of survival”. This could be “in order to gain access to contracts or to get round fines and regulatory procedures”.

The interviewees lamented that “many forms of corruption are becoming social norms, for example, ‘giving something’ to traffic policemen, inspectors and even school staff”. This culture of corruption, they believed, took hold, at least in part, because of “a lack of consequences”. The low wages paid in the public sector were also a contributing factor.

But they also believed that stricter international legislation and norms could push companies to invest in mechanisms of good corporate governance.

Access to funding could also contribute to good governance “since financial institutions demand financial statements and solid governance processes before granting loans. Companies which want to increase their business in a sustainable manner are thus encouraged to invest in governance and avoid corruption”.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique