The president of an impoverished African state which receives £55 million a year in British foreign aid has spent £7 million on a private executive jet, according to anti-corruption campaigners.
Mozambique, where two-thirds of the population earn less than £1 a day, is mired in debt and all direct aid payments to the government from the international community were halted last year after a £1.5 billion secret-loan scandal.
But the Department for International Development (DFID) still pours millions into NGO projects in Mozambique, thus freeing up funds which can be lavished on extravagances such as Filipe Nyusi’s new jet, say critics.
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, left, picutred with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker has spent £7 million on a private executive jet, campaigners have claimed
The aircraft, a 14-seater Bombardier Challenger 850, was bought last month for $9.2 million and was used to fly President Nyusi to the inauguration of new Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa
Mozambique claimed they were purchasing a ‘Tuna Fleet’, but instead bought military vessels
The aircraft, a 14-seater Bombardier Challenger 850, was bought last month for $9.2 million and was used to fly President Nyusi to the inauguration of new Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Passengers enjoy a plush carpeted cabin with leather seats. The jet is apparently more luxurious than the president’s previous aircraft, a Hawker 850 XP, in more utilitarian Mozambique Air Force livery.
According to respected economic and political newsletter Africa Confidential, the aircraft was bought with a loan from the state-owned BNI bank, which is closely linked with the finance ministry. ‘Commentators were amazed at the insensitivity and extravagance of the acquisition in view of the country’s deep economic crisis,’ it reported.
The ten-year-old plane was bought by Mozambique’s ailing state-owned airline, LAM, but the firm denied it was for the president’s exclusive use.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Mesquita, told journalists in the capital Maputo last month: ‘It is an aircraft specifically for executive flights, which is proving a very attractive segment.’
How the MoS has led the way
Following news last week that British aid was being diverted to Islamic extremists by Adam Smith International, The Mail on Sunday’s campaign has continued to make an impact on Government policy.
In 2016, MoS reporter Ian Birrell (pictured below giving evidence to a Government committee) exposed the corruption, waste and profiteering of the foreign aid industry.
Our investigation discovered that ASI had faked evidence to show progress on Government-funded projects in attempts to get even more cash. Four executives quit over the scandal.
But critics have cast serious doubt on the idea that a burgeoning executive jet market has taken root in a country that is struggling economically.
In the coastal resort of Nacala, for example, a gleaming new £150 million international airport stands virtually unused since it was opened three years ago because of the disastrous financial downturn which Mozambique has suffered.
Mozambique analyst Nigel Morgan, of Rhula Intelligent Solutions risk management specialists, said: ‘This sends out completely the wrong message to the world. LAM is in a terrible financial state, so the idea of it venturing into the executive jet market is very unlikely. One also has to ask where on earth the money is coming from.’
In last year’s aid scandal, the Mozambique government confessed to more than £1.5 billion of debts it had kept secret while taking aid money, including £84 million from Britain. Cash was supposed to fund a state-owned tuna fishing fleet, but was instead used to buy military patrol boats from France. Other purchases included security equipment for coastal protection, light aircraft and drones. When last year’s scandal emerged, direct aid to the country through the International Monetary Fund – which included UK money – was stopped, and has not yet been restored.
But other DFID money channelled to NGOs and charities working in Mozambique – often alongside the government, though not handing cash directly to them – continues to be spent unabated in projects such as health, economic development and education. Earlier this year, the purchase of a £2.9 million fleet of Mercedes saloons by officials in Mozambique provoked public outrage.
A DFID spokesman said: ‘No UK funding goes to the government of Mozambique. We do continue to work with trusted partners to deliver water, healthcare and other lifesaving aid directly to those in desperate need of support.’
Calls and emails to spokesmen for President Nyusi and LAM were not answered.
The Mail on Sunday previously exposed how Mozambique spent aid money on weapons