Monday, June 13, 2011


The Mozambican government’s press office (GABINFO) has ordered an inspection of the management of the Mozambique News Agency (AIM), following a libellous campaign in parts of the gutter press against the AIM director, Gustavo Mavie.Accusations of mismanagement and corruption have appeared in two sources – anonymous letters, and articles appearing under the byline of a convicted criminal in the weekly paper “Publico”.The man whose name appeared on the first two articles in “Publico”, Osvaldo Tembe, served an eight month prison sentence for extortion in 2006. At the time, he was working for another weekly, “Zambeze”, and was caught extracting a bribe from a family in exchange for not publishing supposedly damaging information about one of its members. The family went to the police, and the editors of “Zambeze” then set a trap for Tembe. On 14 March 2006, Tembe was surprised on the paper’s premises receiving an envelope containing 35 million old meticais (about 1,170 US dollars at current exchange rates) . Asked what the money was for, Tembe confessed to the crime of extortion.The then director of “Zambeze”, Salomao Moyana, expelled Tembe from the paper. The case went to court, and Tembe received an eight month sentence.It is a good indication of the ethical standards of “Publico” that this paper was prepared to give Tembe a job. The paper’s director, Rui de Carvalho, also has a track record of disgracing the profession – he was the only reporter whom the country’s top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, threw off the independent newsheet “Mediafax” in the mid-1990s for unethical behaviour. But after Cardoso left “Mediafax”, the new management readmitted Carvalho. In February 2001, he published an entirely false and malicious article in “Mediafax”, claiming that Mavie, then AIM’s correspondent in Britain, had been expelled from his house in London for non-payment of rent. (In fact, Mavie lived from his arrival in London in 1997 until his return to Maputo in June 2001 in the same house, with his rent paid by direct debit without any problems).The latest idiotic move in the 'Publico' campaign is to publish a forged letter supposedly written by Mavie that circulated in AIM and GABINFO in February. This letter boasted that Mavie would remain director for a further ten years and would increase the workers’ wages by 300 per cent.The letter, bearing no official stamp and with a falsified signature, was an obvious forgery, and was denounced as such at the time. Yet four months later, “Publico” revives it – from which one can certainly deduce that somebody opposed to Mavie’s leadership slipped the paper a copy, and that it made no attempt to check its authenticity.Prior to the “Publico” articles an anonymous letter circulated, claiming to be from a “group of colleagues” of AIM, which contained many of the same allegations that resurfaced in Tembe’s articles. Mavie and his wife have also been the victim of insulting and threatening e-mails and mobile phone messages. The GABINFO inspection will look at how AIM is functioning, and how the Agency is organised. Mavie expects it to clear him of any wrongdoing.There was something similar last year, when a letter was sent to the Prime Minister’s office with 27 accusations against Mavie. A commission of inquiry was set up, which looked into all the allegations – and could find no substance in any of them.

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