Maputo (AIM-New Ziana) -The oldest son of former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, Ndambi, has accused incumbent President Filipe Nyusi of attempting to poison his entire family.
Guebuza was testifying in the Maputo City Court last Thursday in a hearing to determine whether those accused in the “hidden debts” case are the owners of properties which the Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked the court to seize.
It was the third day in which defendants were asked to confirm or deny ownership of assets on a list of properties that could be seized to pay compensation to the Mozambican state for losses incurred in the scandal of the illicit debts.
The assets specified on the prosecution’s current list will be seized temporarily, until the court reaches a verdict on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
But Guebuza used the court to attack the Nyusi government, claiming he was the main target in the “hidden debts” trial, and the other 17 accused were just the “by-catch”.
He said the conspiracy against the Guebuza family included the murder of his sister, Valentina, in 2016, an attempt to poison the family by putting organophosphate pesticides into a pudding, his own arrest in 2019, and an alleged murder attempt against the family lawyer, Alexandre Chivale.
It is however public knowledge that Valentina Guebuza was shot by her husband, Zofino Muiane, in December 2016, and he is now serving a 24 year sentence for the murder.
The most serious of Guebuza’s claims concerns the supposed poisoned pudding which claimed was prepared at the Ponta Vermelha presidential palace, where President Nyusi lives.
He claimed that one person tasted the pudding, fell ill, and had to be taken to hospital.
Those behind the conspiracy, Guebuza claimed, “are trying to attack my father through me. They want to get rid of old man Guebuza. But old man Guebuza is strong”.
Neither the judge, Efigenio Baptista, nor the prosecutor, Sheila Marrengula, paid any attention to the pudding lacing claims, as they wanted to know whether Guebuza owned a central Maputo flat that is on the list of properties the prosecution wants the court to seize.
“It is not in my name,” said Guebuza, adding the owner was company called Epsilon.
Marrengula, however noted that Epsilon was just a real estate company that buys and sells properties, and there was documentary evidence that it had sold the flat to Guebuza.
On plans by the prosecution to also seize his five per cent holding in the company Focus 21, Guebeza said it belonged to his father, and seizing it was part of the strategy of “the Filipe Jacinto Nyusi regime”.
A second accused, Cipriano Mutota, once the head of the studies office in the Mozambican security service (SISE), accepted that he was the owner of the three properties listed in his name by the prosecution.
He seemed resigned to losing them, saying “When we are born, we don’t bring anything into this world, and when we die, we don’t take anything with us”.
Businessman Fabiao Mabunda denied ownership of the house listed in his name. Faced with an electricity bill for the house, he declared “the house at this address is not mine”.
A fourth accused, Zulfikar Ali, said the house listed as his “belongs to my brother. He gave it to me and my family”.
Marrengula, however, said there was sufficient evidence showing that Mabunda and Ali were the owners of the houses in question.
Guebuza is one of 19 high-profile defendants on trial in Mozambique on charges including bribery, embezzlement and money-laundering.
He was arrested in February 2019 and has been in detention since.
His father took the witness stand in February this year, defending his government’s decision to contract the huge secret loans that triggered an economic crisis.
The charges relate to a series of deals in 2013 and 2014 which saw state-backed firms borrow more than $2 billion, mostly in secret.
Although the money was earmarked for tuna fishing fleet and maritime surveillance vessels, American regulators say that at least $200 million was pocketed by Mozambican officials and bankers from Credit Suisse, which helped arrange the deals.
The revelation of the hidden debts in 2016 pushed the country into default and sparked court cases on three continents.