A Mozambican Politician Who Was Imprisoned for Corruption Returns to His Post After Release

Diodino Cambaza presided over the administrative council of Mozambique's Airports between 2005 and 2008. Photo: Gustavo Sugahara/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Mozambicans reacted indignantly to a corruption case involving a senior government figure who, after finishing half a prison term, returned to work for the state in the same institution where the case happened.

The case concerns Diodino Cambaza, who was detained in 2008 and found guilty in 2010 along with four others of misusing 54 million meticais (880,000 dollars) of public funds in the Mozambique's Airports company. Cambaza presided over the company's administrative council between 2005 and 2008.

Cambaza was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was freed in 2016 for good behaviour. He immediately sought his reinstatement in the company, which was made official on 19 April.

According to an announcement by Mozambique's Public Prosecutors Office, which judged the request, there is no impediment to Cambaza returning to his old post because the company did not hold a disciplinary process after his prison term. However, various citizens did not take kindly to the news.

The Centre of Public Integrity (CIP), a local institution which advocates public transparency, condemned in an interview with Deutsche Welle the company’s decision to reemploy him:

[A reintegração de Diodino Cambaza] representa um revés nos esforços da luta contra corrupção, falta de transparência e até nos esforços da justiça, diz o CIP. O que notamos é que o que deveria ter sido feito era também a empresa proceder disciplinarmente contra o infractor. Mas quer nos parecer que a empresa refugiou-se no silêncio, não instruiu o competente procedimento disciplinar para a aplicação das devidas funções.

[The reemployment of Diodino Cambaza] represents a reversal for the efforts in the fight against corruption, lack of transparency and even in the efforts of justice, the CIP says. What we note is that the company should have taken disciplinary procedures against the offender. But it seems that the company stayed silent, and did not implement the appropriate disciplinary procedure for the application of due functions.

Egídio Vaz, a significant voice on Mozambican social media, also rejected this attitude and considered the case “sickening”:

Se Cambaza fosse um tipo competente, seria consultor, depois de ser condenado e cumprir metade da pena. Daria palestras pagas e discursos motivadores, faria consultoria e reformaria com imagem reservada. Mas porque é incompetente, aceitou ser reintegrado na empresa que ajudou a prejudicar. Portanto, está claro: Cambaza gosta mesmo é estar amarrado para comer. Nojento!

If Cambaza was a competent person, he would be a consultant, after being sentenced and completing half the term. He would give paid lectures and motivational speeches, he would provide consultancy and reform with a reserved image. But because he is incompetent, he accepted being reemployed by the company that he helped to damage. So, it is clear: what Cambaza really likes is being paid for his silence. Sickening!

Bitone Viage, a young Mozambican political science in Brazil, argued that Cambaza had no morals at all:

Cambaza Premiado por um Estado por ele Ofendido

Não estou em crer que se tenha premiado desta forma, alguém que um dia ofendeu gravemente o Estado. Cambaza não tem a moral para voltar a servir o Estado,*já teve uma oportunidade ímpar de servi-lo, mas este por sua vez apenas serviu-se do Estado. Cambaza usou o Estado como se dum cofre inesgotável se tratasse, e o próprio Estado se cansou deste senhor, sendo este por sua vez, intimado, julgado e por fim condenado à uma pena de prisão maior. Sinceramente falando não sei porquê este senhor foi premiado desta forma.

Cambaza rewarded by a state which he defrauded:

I do not believe that somebody should be rewarded like this, somebody who has at some point seriously offended the state. Cambaza does not have the morals to return to serve the state, *he already had a unique opportunity to serve it, but he, for his part, only served himself from the state. Cambaza used the state as if it was an inexhaustible money box, and the state became tired of this man, being in turn summoned, judged and finally sentenced to a heavy prison term. Sincerely speaking I do not know why this man was rewarded like this.

Francey Zeúte preferred to remember the first president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, to highlight that a thief’s place is in prison:

Lugar de ladrão é na cadeia

Samora Machel será eternamente lembrado pelos moçambicanos não apenas por ter sido o primeiro Presidente de Moçambique independente, mas também pelos seus discursos contundentes, incisivos e, diga-se de passagem, proféticos. Uma das suas mais célebres exposição oral foi quando afirmou peremptoriamente que “um ambicioso é capaz de tudo, de vender a Pátria só por causa da sua ambição, do seu interesse individual”. Samora disse ainda que “não sei se um ambicioso muda, mas a minha experiência prova que não, muda de táctica, mas não elimina a ambição. Um ambicioso é criminoso ao mesmo tempo”.

The place of a thief is in prison

Samora Machel will be eternally remembered by Mozambicans not only for having been the first president of independent Mozambique, but also for his powerful, incisive and, one could say, prophetic speeches. One of his most famous speeches was when he asserted peremptorily that “an ambitious person is capable of everything, of selling the homeland only because of their ambition, of their personal interest”. Samora said that “I do not know if somebody ambitious changes, but my own experience shows not, they change tactics, but do not eliminate the ambition. Somebody ambitious is criminal at the same time”.

On Twitter, the reactions also critical of the decision:

Cambaza was sentenced to 22 years in prison, served 10 [sic] and came out. And today the company at which he misused funds renewed the contract

Emildo Sambo, of the newspaper @Verdade, remarked that crime appears to pay in Mozambique:

Actually, in Mozambique being a thief and a vassal of [ruling party] Frelimo pays. Diodino Cambaza, sentenced to the heaviest prison term, returned to Mozambique's Airports

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