A MOZAMBIQUE COURT has sentenced 66-year-old former Mozambiquan Transport Minister Paulo Zucula to ten years imprisonment for his part in the purchase of two E190s from Embraer in 2009.
Three senior government and LAM airline officials were accused of receiving $800,000 in bribes from Embraer between 2008 and 2010, in addition to being indicted for over-invoicing in the amount of $400,000.
“There was damage in the increase in the price of aircraft, which unduly impacted the State’s finances and there is obviously a direct and necessary relationship between the defendant’s illegal conduct and the damage suffered by the Mozambican State, which is the causal link”, said the magistrate.
Dércio Alfazema, from the Institute for Multiparty Democracy, says that this sentence means that justice is for everyone, regardless of the positions that people occupy. “It is a positive signal that the country is sending out. It shows that people, regardless of their position and position, if they commit crimes, will be duly held accountable,” he said.
“It is now necessary to ensure that these benefits they have had from corrupt practices are collected and handed over to the State,” he added.
“There is a whole need to review the legislation and the anti-corruption strategy so that these processes are speedy, but also that they are dealt with in their own forums so that the corrupt cannot benefit from subterfuges,” Dércio Alfazema said.
Those convicted have 20 days to appeal the sentence. The Court found that the convictions of Zucula and Zimba proved that there was money laundering.
There was however no finding from the court or censure of Embraer’s corrupt marketing tactics – which could reasonably be assumed would by association have been knowledgeable about the corrupt deal.
‘he received $900,000 in bribes from a Brazilian company’
Of further concern is that Jose Viegas, the Chairperson of LAM at the time, was acquitted. It is claimed that Viegas was involved extensively in corruption in that he had received $900,000 in bribes from a Brazilian company who were awarded the contract for the refurbishment of Nacala Airport.
Many have become sceptical of African governments’ ability to bring those guilty of corruption to justice. There are claims that Viegas escaped justice purely on a technicality, in that too much time had elapsed and the case had prescribed.
In an echo of the so-called Stalingrad Strategy has been so successfully used to evade corruption charges by the Zuma faction in South African courts, the slowness of the processes in the courts benefits some defendants, as was the case of José Viegas.
Nonetheless the conviction of Zucula and Zimba is seen as a victory against the high level of corruption that has plagued many African governments.
Attorney Adbul Gani said, “The matter we were fighting for today was reflected in the sentence. This is my satisfaction, even for the sake of justice, so that people can believe in the courts.”