Very late in December 2022, Mozambique’s government gazetted a new decree to regulate public procurement in the country, which has raised quite many eyebrows – if the motivation was to curtail corruption, clearly the decree is likely to fall wide of the mark.
Analysts point out that the decree, which entered into force on 29 March, will undermine transparency and increase the risk for corruption since it privileges direct contracting as opposed to public tenders.
One of the state institutions that can legally direct contract public works, supply of goods and services is the Office of the President, thus rendering the Presidency vulnerable to corruption and improbity.
Without any transparency, how can the public know whether any public servant within the Presidency is not likely to award contracts his businesses or cronies?
If in the past public tenders have been manipulated to favour a particular company or businessman either because they are linked to the ruling Frelimo party or because they are friends and relatives, imagine when government officials are given the green light to direct contract public works and services.
However, the Ministry of Economy and Finance argues that the direct contracting regime will ensure that the Presidency can quickly awards without being untrammelled by a long selection process.
For example, Minister in the Presidency for Civil Affairs Constantino Bacela was a businessman before his appointment in 2021. Bacela was known for winning many public tenders for the supply of goods and services to public institutions, ranging from public works to vehicles to the maintenance of the Maputo Ring Road.
In his role as Minister in the Presidency for Civil Affairs, Bacela will among others manage the finances of the Office of the President, meaning that he can award contracts to whomsoever he wishes, as he will have the discretionary power to select the awardees.
@2024, Mozambique Insights. All Rights Reserved