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Economy - Development | Politics

"Corruption in Mozambique's public works tenders"

afrol News / Savana, 8 September - Mozambique's National Highway Administration (ANE) again is affected by a new case with corruption indication around the awarding of contracts, this time through the provincial public works office of Gaza province. Several sources maintain the case is only an example of the corruption penetrating the entire institution, which manages million of euros provided by the World Bank and several Western development aid agencies.

As an example, the World Bank every year injects an average of US$ 100 million in highway and road projects in Mozambique. This value is added to around US$ 30 million proceeding from other donors.

The case of ANE's office in Gaza - a province just north of Maputo, bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe - the local management has awarded routine maintenance works of the 90-kilometre Xai-Xai-Zandamela road to the company Pico Construções. The contract shows signs of corruption as all standards for tenders set by ANE have been put aside in the process.

According to a document to which 'Savana' - Mozambique's leading independent weekly - has had access to, signed by the Gaza regional director of ANE, António Mambo, the works on this road section originally were split into two parts and awarded the companies Brisa and Ndomac. Brisa was to maintain the Chicumbane-Nhamavila section, while Ndomac was to take care of the Nhamavila-Zandamela section. Later however, ANE discovered that the two contractors were doing works of poor quality.

Further according to the document, in an attempt to avoid that the situation became time-consuming, ANE asked the Provincial Direction of Public Works in Gaza (DPOPH) to cancel the contracts with the two companies.

"At the same time, ANE applied for prices from three contractors with the aim of choosing the one with the lowest price who would provide continuity to the maintenance works of the road in question. And this process resulted in the awarding of the works to the contractor WBHO," the document emphasises.

The only problem was that WBHO, a South African company, had asked for time to mobilise equipments and to get to learn about the technical details of the road section together with the works inspector.

Strangely, while the South African company was going ahead with these preparations, the Provincial Direction of Public Works in Gaza decided to award the works directly to the contractor Pico Construções, in direct conflict with all the norms normally applied to such processes and without consulting with ANE in Maputo.

Sources in Gaza province claim to know of corrupt practices in the awarding of public works. The allegations of such practices are pointed directly at the director of the Provincial Direction of Public Works in Gaza, José Mahumane, and his surroundings. Mr Mahumane is accused of awarding works to companies where he has an interest.

In a short statement to 'Savana', Mr Mahumane denies that there have been any types of irregularities in his tender practices, excusing himself by saying he is not part of the commission that awards works to contractors.

"I am not part of the jury. There exists a commission composed of technicians from ANE and a commission of contractors, of which the provincial director is not part. Neither do I know how the awarding of the Xai-Xai-Zandamela section to the company Pico Construções was done," explains Mr Mahumane.

In the recent past, Mozambique's Minister of Public Works himself, Felício Zacarias, who also supervises ANE, warned those trying to "corrupt the tenders for awarding of public works at ANE." At that moment, Minister Zacarias "ordered" the demission of all directors of the national road administration who had been suspected of dishonest practices.

ANE at that stage was taken through a profound reorganisation process, including the substitution of its former Director-General João David Mabombo with current leader Ibraimo Remane.

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