Marchers protest Moz president’s perks

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IOL pic apr24 Mozambique Flag Reuters File picture: Grant Neuenburg

Maputo - Protesters took to the streets of the Mozambican capital Maputo on Friday to express outrage over the awarding of hefty perks and allowances to the president and lawmakers.

A package for outgoing President Armando Guebuza, who is due to step down after two terms when national elections are held in October, came in for particular criticism.

Guebuza is to receive a “reintegration allowance” equivalent to 10 times his annual salary - that being the number of years he will have been in office - in addition to his pension.

Other perks include first class air tickets for himself and his family to anywhere in the world when they go on holiday.

“We should not pay for their holidays, it is absurd!” one protester who gave just her first name Annabella told AFP.

“They need to know that people are watching what they are doing,” said one of the march organisers, Nzira de Deus.

Despite huge natural resources and rapid economic growth Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world where many people live on less than a dollar a day.

Civil society groups that organised the protest claim Guebuza takes home close to fifty times the minimum wage, fixed last month at around US$100 a month.

As the march snaked its way from central Maputo through the city's elite suburbs, followed by an armoured riot police van, the protesters chanted an invitation to the president to swap his luxury car for their mode of travel.

“Mr President, travel with me on a 'My Love',” they sang, referring to the open-topped trucks crammed with thousands of Maputo residents on their way to work each day because of a lack of public buses.

Since rising living costs sparked violent protests in the capital in 2010, the country's central bank has kept a lid on inflation.

But the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by a small group of elite Mozambicans are giving rise to growing dissatisfaction amongst the poor who say they have not benefited from galloping economic growth of more than seven percent for the last decade.

The protesters called on Guebuza to veto the controversial bills when they land on his desk.


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