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Mozambique: Nyusi’s alleged involvement in ‘hidden debt’ scandal

By The Africa Report
Posted on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 13:32, updated on Friday, 17 September 2021 07:30

Mozambique Elections
Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi, at an election rally in Maputo, Mozambique on 12 October 2019. (AP Photo/Ferhat Momade)

Mozambicans are glued to their screens as the 'hidden debt' criminal trial - involving $2bn, many state and ruling party officials, and President Filipe Nyusi - enters its third week.

It was thought that the legal proceedings would simply be a show trial with minor political figures being scapegoats, but the ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) party has lost control of the situation.

As a result, numerous defendants continue to testify on President Filipe Nyusi’s prominent role in the 2013-14 scandal. Defence Minister at the time, many are claiming he was a key mover, and there are documents in evidence proving his involvement in the planning and approval of the faux projects, although he had previously claimed little to no knowledge of the situation.

“The trial is set to continue until at least December, with key defendants due to give evidence in early October and ex-President Guebuza himself on 2 December,” reports Africa Confidential. 

Effect on Nyusi

  • Defendants Cipriano Mutota, a former intelligence officer, and consultant Teoflo Nhangumele, a former employee of the British High Commission in Maputo, told the court repeatedly that Nyusi had a prominent role in the deals.
  • Nyusi is, however, rarely mentioned by name in court; he is referred to instead as ‘the former minister of defence’.
  • This, however, cannot change the fact that Nyusi’s reputation has been badly damaged.

What to expect next

  • Antonio Carlos do Rosario, former senior intelligence officer and boss of three companies in the scheme is expected to take the stand on 30 September.
  • It is believed that he will echo previous claims that one company, Privinvest, paid Nyusi $2m personally, then provided extra funding to his Frelimo party to support his 2014 presidential bid. However, Nyusi denies any wrongdoing.

Bottom line

Although innocent until proven guilty, President Nyusi’s reputation has been severely damaged by the claims against him by other prominent political actors, in front of the very people that voted him in.

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