3 February 2003

Former provincial governor questioned

The anti-corruption team from the Attorney-General's office has been questioning the former governor of the central province of Sofala, Felisberto Tomas, in Beira since 27 January, "Mediafax".

Anonymous sources in the Sofala provincial attorney's office told the paper that Tomas is under interrogation about various irregularities that took place while he was governor.

One of these concerns the theft of about eight billion meticais ($336,000) from the public treasury. The main suspect in this case is the former provincial planning and finance director, Jose da Silva Beirao.

The theft occurred while Tomas was governor: his term of office ran from 1995 to 2000. But it was only discovered last year: when the theft was discovered, the head of the treasury department in the Sofala finance directorate, Josefa Afonso, began investigating. Clearly this earned her powerful enemies - for on 17 July last year she was shot dead outside her house.

Within a week seven people had been arrested in connection with the murder, and it is believed that statements made by them have led to the accusations against Beirao.

Beirao was briefly detained on the orders of Assistant Attorney-General Isabel Rupia. But, much to her anger, a Beira court subsequently ordered his release. Prosecutors also want Tomas to explain the tendering process for the construction of public buildings. The current governor, Felicio Zacarias, has been discovering a range of irregularities in building work - including lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts, and the delivery to the provincial authorities of poor quality buildings. Some of these schools and other buildings were so badly built that Zacarias has refused to inaugurate them.

The anti-corruption team also plans to question inspectors of the Sofala public works and housing directorate, since the inspectors are responsible for approving building work. Only after the inspectors have given their go-ahead can contractors hand buildings over to the state.

Oddly enough, the inspectors gave the buildings a clean bill of health, but when the time came to inaugurate, they were visibly of poor construction. So much so that in some cases cracks in the walls were already evident.

Inspectors approved the work, and then the contractors were paid by the state, with the blessing of Felisberto Tomas - a practice which Zacarias has brusquely interrupted.

Prosecutors are also investigating irregularities in Beira municipality. In December the city's mayor, Chivavice Muchangage and local officials of the state housing body, APIE, were questioned about how, in several instances, the same parcel of land had come to be attributed to two people, and who authorised the construction of buildings on improper sites. (AIM)


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