Mozambique’s Ministry of Economy and Finance has cancelled an ‘urgent’ contract worth $4 million awarded to companies linked to businessmen associated to the ruling Frelimo party in the northern Cabo Delgado province.
The contracts were awarded by the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) for the provision of supplies and transport for the Cabo Delgado electoral registration process.
Specifically, the awards went to Omar Rent a Car of businessman Omar Omar to the tune of $1.4 million for the rental of 21 4×4 vehicles. Mozambique’s Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) says it would have cost less – $1.3 million – to buy new cars rather than hire them.
A $2.5 million contract was won by Fly Índico for the hire of a helicopter – the company’s major shareholder is one Miguel Ángelo dos Santos Curado Ribeiro. Two other companies – Rovuma Holdings and Mussiro Investimentos – won three contracts worth $66 thousand. The owner is young businessman Bruno Pinheiro.
All businessmen are closely linked to Frelimo.
The subsequent public uproar led the Ministry of Economy and Finance to cancel the contracts and dispatch a fact-finding team to evaluate the awards. Meanwhile, according to the publicly-owned Radio Moçambique, the provincial STAE seems to have written a rebuttal to the ministry arguing against the cancellation.
The awarding of contracts at highly inflated prices has become a common practice in state businesses with the awarders receiving a cut, usually a 10 percent commission fee.
Elections are predictable, which means that the electoral bodies have ample time to plan and issue out public tenders which CIP says are normally cheaper. Consequently, it is strange that the Cabo Delgado STAE decided to award ‘urgent’ contracts – this seems to have been a deliberate ploy to award the contracts to cronies and at inflated prices.
The ministry rightly cancelled the awards, but this does not mean the contracts have been scrapped. It just means that ministry temporarily suspended the contracts until a due diligence process is conducted; hence the sending of a fact-finding team.
Mozambique Insights understands that the Cabo Delgado STAE informed the ministry that it cannot renege on the contracts because it has sent the award process to the Administrative Court for approval, which flies in the face of statements from the provincial STAE that it has started taking delivery of the vehicles.
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