Mozambique president backs down

2014-06-16 23:17
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza (Picture: AFP)

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza (Picture: AFP)

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Maputo - Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza has vetoed a bill that would have granted him and fellow lawmakers generous retirement perks following a public outcry, his spokesperson said on Monday.

"The Head of State decided... that these laws should be sent back to parliament for reconsideration," presidential spokesperson Edson Macuacua told AFP.

Guebuza, 71, had "taken into account the opinions that arose around these laws," Macuacua added.

Some of the proposed perks included first class air tickets for the president and his family when they go on holidays.

Other perks included life-long retirement benefits for lawmakers - even those who have served only a single five-year term.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Maputo, in May to express outrage over the measures, accusing the ruling elite of enriching themselves at the expense of the poor.

Despite rapid economic growth on the back of huge natural resource finds, Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world with the majority of people in the country living on less than a dollar a day.

While Guebuza's salary is not made public, civil society groups claim that the president takes home close to fifty times the minimum wage, fixed last month at around $100 a month.

Following public protests at the proposals, the country's third largest party, the Mozambican Democratic Movement (MDM) apologised for having backed the measures calling it a "grave error".

The opposition party Renamo welcomed the decision to review the bill but said it was a ploy to win votes for the ruling Frelimo party in the run up to October polls.

"This was clearly an electioneering move by the president of Frelimo, which is certainly regrettable," Renamo lawmaker Arnaldo Chalaua told O Pais newspaper.

This is not the first time that a Mozambican president has vetoed a law granting officials fat benefits. In 1998, Guebuza's predecessor Joaquim Chissano overturned a raft of retirement benefits for lawmakers.

Read more on:    armando guebuza  |  mozambique  |  southern africa
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