Friday, June 23, 2017

Parliament will not debate luxury cars

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The purchase of 17 luxury cars continues to stir Mozambican politics, with opposition groups calling for a debate on the issue, but there is no indication that this could happen in the near future. On the streets, in cafes and on social networks, this is one of the most talked-about themes: the purchase of 17 Mercedes-Benz cars for members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee at a cost to the state of about three-and-a-half million euros. It is egregious and even offensive, members of the public told DW Africa – not least because Mozambique is currently experiencing one of the worst economic and financial crises in its history, following the suspension in 2016 of international aid with the disclosure of state-guaranteed debts contracted by three companies without parliament’s knowledge.
“It is luxury in the midst of misery,” Helenio Ferreira said. “The country is afflicted, it is in crisis, and a small group using the name of the people is going to ride in luxury cars.”
Hélia Isabel asked: “Where is the justice in assigning Mercedes to some people while others are suffering transportation problems?”
Parliamentary opposition groups the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) want the Standing Committee to discuss the issue, and deny any involvement in the decision to award the luxury vehicles. But DW Africa has learned that any debate on the matter cannot take place before July, as MPs are working in their constituencies and the body has no meeting convened before then. Meanwhile, MDM spokesman Venâncio Mondlane is collecting signatures from deputies petitioning against the cars, but so far only nine of the 250 deputies have been supportive.
Do the Mercedes justify themselves?
Imagem relacionadaResultado de imagem para transporte passageiros maputoRenamo spokesman and deputy António Muchanga says that the problem of the luxury cars is spurious. “There is no room for either the Assembly of the Republic or the Speaker [Verónica Macamo] to choose the brands of protocol vehicles for parliament.” Muchanga says that after more than 12 years without new vehicles, it is quite “lawful” to renew Parliament’s fleet, “as at other ministries and state institutions”. “It was the government and not the assembly,” which decided to buy the Mercedes, he adds. “Why do you not question the three vehicles that the Supreme Court judges have, which ministers have, and only question those of the deputies?” he asks.Earlier this month, National Budget Director Rogério Nkomo similarly said he thought it “legitimate for the members of the Assembly of the Republic to be transported by official cars of that level”, as is the case with members of other organs of state sovereignty. Nkomo also noted that the decision to purchase predated the 2016 crisis.

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