Hidden Debts: Theft or Political Coup?

Hidden Debts: Theft or Political Coup?

  To understand the disruptive environment within Frelimo and the intense dispute between the United States and Mozambique over the custody of

 

To understand the disruptive environment within Frelimo and the intense dispute between the United States and Mozambique over the custody of Manuel Chang, former Mozambican finance minister in Guebuza’s consulate and deputy at the beginning of Nyusi’s political period, it may be interesting to take a walk through the field of hypotheses about the different perspectives of what is known as the Hidden Debts Scandal.

 

In 2015, another financial scandal exploded in Mozambique, this time with global connections. Banks of global dimension (the transalpine Credit Suisse, the Russian VTB) and international financial mechanisms (World Bank, IMF), the “World Masters”, were deceived in an intricate and ridiculous plot of spies, men and relatives of the President at the time of the facts: Armando Emilio Guebuza the “Most Beloved Son of Mozambicans” according to his eclectic cronies.

 

Context

The Economic Boom:

The hydrocarbon boom (coal in Tete from 2010 and gas in Cabo Delgado a few years later) euphorically left the Mozambican government and Frelimo in an ecstasy that bordered on madness. And both, in a crusade led by the Dearest Son himself, personally committed to leave a legacy of an indelible, unquestionable and eternal work. Sought to closely monitor this promising dossier that would bring to the country the manna that the party has been promising since the end of the war: to eliminate poverty, because fighting is already proving to be far-fetched and tired.

 

The Vega 5

In December 2010 a group of Somali pirates, presumably, captured a fishing vessel south of the Mozambique Channel, near the Bazaruto Archipelago, South of the Save, in fact “the fishing boat of the Spanish-Mozambican company Efripel Lda. and operated by Pescamar Lda. Vega 5 was allegedly kidnapped on December 27, 2010 by a group of Somali pirates six hundred miles off the coast of Inhassôro, in Inhambane province. At the time, 24 crewmembers were on board, five foreigners and nineteen Mozambicans. Only twelve of the nineteen Mozambicans have returned to the country. There are many doubts, which worries the families of the seven Mozambicans who have been missing for almost six years”.

 

Already adapted by her captors, the vessel served as a pirate mother ship. Was recovered from the hands of the Somali pirates by two Indian navy vessels (the corvettes Khukri and Kalpeni) in the Arabian Sea about 600 nautical miles (1,111 kilometres) West of the Indian coast at the coordinates: 18 hours 36 minutes 56.3364 seconds of right ascent and 38 degrees 47 minutes 01.291 seconds of declination.

 

“At the time, the Vega 5 caught fire, and the navy rescued 61 pirates and 13 crew members from the burning ship. The pirates carried around 80 to 90 small arms and some heavy weapons, such as rocket launchers. According to the Indian government, Vega 5 has posed a risk to the international navy for the past four months and has been used in several piracy operations”.

 

These two contexts alerted the Mozambican government and state to the need to strengthen the defence capacity of the national maritime space, including, or mainly, the exclusive economic zone.

 

Thus begins an intricate game of spies, lobbyists, the President’s Men, his tightest inner circle, Franco-Lebanese relatives and businessmen with dubious connections in the world of politics and conflicts.

 

The Coup Behind the Coup

From August 23, 2021 to February 2022, the court installed (6th Criminal Section of the Judicial Court of Maputo City) in the Maximum Security Prison, former BO (Operational Brigade of the National Popular Security Service – SNASP, predecessor of the State Intelligence and Security Service – SISE), under the presidency of Judge Efigénio Baptista, listed 19 defendants and almost two dozen declarants. The facts listed support the following positions:

 

The in-Laws[1]

An intricate web of connections and schemes linking top figures in South African security sectors. Joe Mokgokong, an elusive and little-known figure; General Solly Zacharia Shoke, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and close figure of the Franco-Lebanese, Iskandar Safa (deceased on 29.01.2024) and his nephew Jean Boustani to the Guebuza´s clique, by the good services of an smart-ass Teófilo Nhangumele and a South African Mata Hari Batsetsane Thlokoane. Batsetsane is alleged representative of Abu Dhabi Mar LC, part of the Privinvest Group and known to General Shoke and agent of the External Directorate of South African intelligence.

 

Understand the interests that motivated the South Africans to push the French-Lebanese down the throats of Mozambican intelligence is still a million dollars mystery to unveil.

 

The Royal House

Although SISE participated in the process of finding solutions to the scenarios described in the context, through an analysis and proposal of solutions by the Directorate of Studies and Projects. The role of Teófilo Nhangumele, an offsider of the Mozambican intelligence apparatchik, was crucial in bringing the royal family closer, involved and committed to the bribery scheme and the monumental jackpot that followed. So much so, that he left his friend Mutota in the lurch.

 

The Good Signs[2]:

Gregório Leão José (codename Barros) and António Carlos do Rosário (codename Hafido) are two Mozambican top intelligence officials. Namenly General-Director of the State Intelligence and Security Services and Director of Economic Intelligence at SISE. Turn out to be key players in this intricate scheme of bribery and connections, giving another dimension to the matter: the political dimension, with an eye on 2024, have been creating a web of unquestionable loyalty based on money and tribal ties. Part of the listed, linked to the two, is from Zambézia, which guarantees not only the distribution of the cake, but also the maximum possible secrecy. Booth seem to have their plan. Thinking far ahead the end of Guebuza’s successor consulate by controlling and manipulating the dynamics of the succession process in Frelimo.

 

The Succession:

In the regional distribution of candidates for the leadership of the party of the Comrades, Barros and Hafido appears to align their plan waiting for the crucial moment of influencing the succession in Frelimo in their favour. Well placed for this game: burning some and polishing others and hoping to exploit the Centre’s turn very well (Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambézia).

 

From this group of centrists of the tribal game, Jaime Basílio Monteiro emerges as the ace of the soft putchists. A top police officer with a long career as Chief of Staff of the PRM in Cabo Delgado and Nampula (where he starred in scenes of persecution and threats of shooting by a Judge and his enmity with the class of judges in the province). In Manica he was a provincial commander where he was involved in illegal gold mining.

 

After Manica he was promoted to Commander of the Special Reserve Forces (REF) to which the then Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) belongs, then Director of Public Order and Security (DOSP) of the General Command of the PRM (CGPRM), Deputy General Commander and finally Minister (2015-2019).

 

His rise is classified by military and police veteran officers as rapid and surprising, as is his rise in the political ladder, having arrived at the Political Commission without credentials or a path to justify it. Barros plan was to manipulate Nyusi’s succession, presenting in the end a centrist and with a (para)military background that fits the profile of the country security situations: terrorism and kidnappings.

 

Monteiro’s connection to Barros and Hafido and the plan of the three in the succession was confirmed with the unusual visit made by Monteiro, (28.04.2024) at the gates of the Session of the Central Committee that would discuss the succession, to his friends at Língamo penal facility. This Monteiro’s move reveals a strategic connection with the Língamo group, with whom he shares regional and tribal origins.

 

In the succession run off and saga, more or less ostensibly, Basílio Monteiro was the first to create a pre-candidate preparation office, revealing a timely schedule and way ahead of others runners. Posed himself with a notorious modesty and discretion, an objective minded character focused on the objective of reaching the top country’s sceptre of power.

 

Apparently moderate and thoughtful, although people in his close circle and who have lived together professionally reveal himself to be a very tribalistic, manipulative and ambitious person.

 

During his tenure at the Ministry of the Interior (2015 and 2019), he promoted the rise of officers from Zambézia (cousins and nephews or with some kinship ties), as Timóteo Bernardo, DOSP then Vice CGPRM; Zito Gabriel, DPF CGPRM and placed in the Judiciary in less than 1 year; Zainadine Danani, former Deputy Director of SENAMI; João Mário Mupuela, Provincial Commander in Inhambane and then in Gaza; Francisco Raul Simões, the late Commander of Manica, his nephew, on his wife’s side; Abílio Ambrósio DPF, Chame Muaquina, Director of SERNAP; Miquichone Afonso, former Deputy Director of the Coastal, Lake and Rivers Police (a unit created by Basílio Monteiro with absolutely no functionality) and current Commander of the PRM in Maputo province; Almeida was at HCB as a delegate of MINT.

 

At MINT Basílio created an extensive network of nepotism and cronyism, a brother-in-law of Nampula, Fernando is the current Deputy Director of SERNIC, Elisete Nampuio Director of DNIC his sister-in-law because she is a cousin of one of his wives. Basílio relied only on cousins, nephews and family or tribaly connected people to run the ministry. His businessman and figurehead Mbiza (Strong Security and one of the most important suppliers of MINT and PRM) is a member of the Central Committee, a kind of personal Bila.

 

Monteiro’s companies or those linked to him, children, wife, friends and figureheads, still control dominate the Ministry of the Interior’s procurement, from toilet paper, insurance, ammunition and lethal equipment. He is said to be the richest interior minister and has served only one term.

 

Cabo Delgado:

The emergence of terrorists in Cabo Delgado is the most complex part of the fight against terror in Mozambique. Here is the scenario we present: MAM and ProÍndicus (security mechanisms outside the scheme and hierarchy of the defence and security forces-FDS), although operating with military means and security personnel, are companies dedicated to providing security services controlled by SISE through Hafido and people appointed by him. Many former chiefs and people of the state and political nomenclature asked for favours and included their children and relatives in the structure of those companies.

 

At some point in the process, it was necessary to secure clientele for the ambitious security project and, above all, funds to plug the hole in bribes. Referring to the Vega 5 episode, the multinationals would have responded with a refusal, on the pretext that Mozambique did not pose a danger to their projects.

 

The next step is to create the threat. The religious motto may have allowed this element: simple, controllable, and restricted. Mosques, Madrassas and Massdjids were funded and supported generously. There were objective conditions: means, men and intelligence, for this, and the political conditions were also created. Tanzanian agitators (informal traders) manipulate the population, specially the discontent hordes of young and lumpenproletariat, in some regions in Cabo Degado, to revolt against the state. The rest is already known.

 

Funny and exquisite Barros is an acquaintance of Eric Prince, whom he brought and presented in Maputo, to take over the already supposedly toxic coastal security companies and make the companies viable with the oil & gas multinationals already facing the real threat of terrorists, locally designated Mashababos. Whose destructive epic began in Mucojo and Quiterajo, villages between the open coast and Macomia separated by the Kathupa forest and management centres for illegal immigration at its peak in 2009-2012. South African intelligence learnt of Al-Qaeda training camps in northern Mozambique in 2012.

 

The multinationals refuse and oppose it with a model of state security that includes the ministries of defence and the interior.

 

The then incumbents Basilio and M’tumuke, were pointed managers of the project of a corporate protection with state means (men, equipment), but they received the funds and did not delivered to the soldiers and police units deployed in the TON (North Operational Theatre).

 

In court, almost shouting Barros insisted: “it was intelligence!” trying to hint at the complexity of what he described a high complex security operation, above perception of a common mind whom only saw a millionaire robbery. More flamboyant and talkative Hafido seeks to convince the court, Mozambican society and the world that the country was, and still, facing a serious security threat and everything done was necessary.

 

On the lights and facts brought up by Jean Boustani in his book that the funds would be used for other projects, political or strategic within Mozambique. The matter may have been derailed when Nyusi dismantled Gregorio Leão José (Barros) from the directorate-general of services.

 

Guebuza and Company.

A victim of his ego. Those he trusted most deceived Guebuza. Gregório Leão José and António Carlos do Rosário a very dynamic duo committed in a personal task of controlling the next tenant of number 2000 of Julius Nyerere and the year 2024. Recklessly or on in purpose, served a poisonous piece of the cake to Ndambi Guebuza (33 million usd), Guebuza’s son. Dragged Alexandre Chivale, an assumed and sworn Guebuzista, to collaborate with the secret services in order to manipulate the entire political narrative against or in defence of the project, and give the idea of a “political wings fight” to any attempt to criticize, combat, and judge the idea. Fawned over, AEG felt the dust but did not see it coming out of his own pockets.

 

Nyusi clearly betrayed Guebuza in all sort of aspects. Worse than Brutus stabbed Guebuza’s back several times: In the party, in the presidency, business and in its family to the core.

 

Brooklyn

In Brooklyn, Manuel Chang may feel safe, despite the ridiculous hypotheses presented by some local press of “refuge in the Mozambican diplomatic representation in New York”.

 

In America, Chang is free to escape from the long arm of the group, exposed as it was in the South African prison system, as Thomashaussen suggested, from the possibility of “Files burn”, in this rocambolesque saga of espionage, theft and political struggle within Frelimo. As liberators (generation 25th of September) era is fading out. As well the high level of infiltration of the partisan hosts and the shameful exposure of the country to strong global lobbying groups for the strategic resources it possesses, and of course to political and economic competitors in the region (RSA, Tanzania) and in the area of gas (Qatar, United Arab Emirates) in the world. “This is a big gain for us, they already trust us. Nobody gave us anything, after the discovery of the hidden debts, and I was known as the President of the country of thieves”, says Nyusi.

 

Tired, sick, defeated and above all alone. Imprisoned since 2018 on his way to paradise in Dubai (with a one-way ticket) Chang has nothing to lose and can unveil the most well-known secret of all in this scam by pronouncing the name of the New Man, who has shown willingness to spend everything to prevent the treasurer of the coup from going to the United States.

 

Delete everything! Delete everything in Manuel Chang’s emails! Everything!!” Nyusi reportedly shout to a group of treasury officials in April at the Central Committee session where the elephant in the room was appointed, and felt that not everything could go according to his plans.

 

Coup d’état?

Jean Boustani is on the cover of the weekly Canal de Moçambique, stated peremptorily “it was a coup d’état”, explaining the misdirection of the entire project process. From this perspective, there are two probabilities here:

 

The Zambezia Connection: With the efforts of the Zambezian, group trying to control the succession process ten years ahead of the post-Nyusi period. Listing Jaime Basílio Monteiro as a pawn in his game and organizing the pieces of his political chess in the party, in the government and in society.

 

The group organize the professional and political career of Jaime Basílio Monteiro, a Zambezian, including his meteoric rise from deputy commander general of the Police to Minister of the Interior and simultaneously, without a recognized political career, his entry into Frelimo’s restricted political body: the Political Commission.

 

Chang, for example, godfather of Gregory Leão José, has already been “eating” with him in big contracts in the Services. Supplying SUV’s and operational vehicles, and other services through companies to which Chop Stick and the Orange Lady (Barros wife) owed.

 

He was ensuring his return to the government orchestrated by the clique of the Good Signs, with Jaime Basílio Monteiro as president, Gregorio Leão Minister of Foreign Affairs, António Carlos do Rosário, SISE’s General Director, Chang Prime Minister. Good moves giving the fact that was the turn of the Centre and Sofala was no longer useful because Dlhakama is dead and buried as M’tumuke had predicted and Pacheco is no longer useful.

 

The Mueda Connection: with the Makonde group offering Guebuza on a platter as corrupt-in-chief, probably due to past issues and animosities with Chipande. Turning that finally, Nyusi discovered that at the banquet of bribes he just had the smallest piece, despite of his role on the approval and implementation (second in charge after Guebuza). Considered “deceived” by Leão and Guebuza, having thus agreed to judge his former colleagues in the Joint Command and in the FDS and his former boss Guebuza through his son, hoping to hit him politically during the trial.

 

In his communicational slips, Chipande pours out the group sorrow, saying that at the trial he was full of machanganas and some chuwábos to paint. “The Makondes, where were they? Han?”.

 

Where appears a gigantic robbery may be the tip of the iceberg of an intricate political coup in an increasingly moribund Frelimo, taken over by a web of dangerous groups with very strong and dangerously connected business ambitions that justify resorting to any means, political or criminal, to achieve their goals.

 

The Party

A Frelimo without ideology, without utopia, without leadership, no checks & balances, where flattery is the rule, an intelligence service full of children of leaders, without experience or profile for the activity, exposes itself, and the country, to these personal manipulations and the country to ridicule, instead of protecting it from threats, becomes itself a real threat. Taken advantage of by everything and everyone, while the demobilized members of the FADM increase unemployment, the informal sector, crime and terrorism, with their operational expertise while the State is defenceless.

 

The disruptive environment in Frelimo today can be seen as the urgent need that its members have to divest (deNyusificate) process themselves of ten years of despotic, erratic management and rampant greyness. Where only the President, the Secretary-General and the President of the OMM (Frelimo’s women league), not surprisingly the First Lady, appeared but completely devoid of a strategic approach that encompassed the party, that reflected the national reality, or any political vision, economic or social conjuncture. Just for the pleasure of showing up and showing who was boss. Today people rebel against the genius of the lamp: “We must want you to be wanted…”. Even though Nyusi and Roque seem to seek to accommodate their stones sharpening the knives for future battles  maybe.

[1] The South Africans are named the brothers in laws because Mandela espoused Graça Machel the widow of Samora Machel. First president of Mozambique.

[2] From Rio dos Bons Sinais a river that engulfs the city of Quelimane, Zambézia province. Was called Good Signs by Vasco da Gama because was there were he had the good news that he could find a pilot capable to take him to India by the sea.

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