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Manuel Chang takes flight

As the former finance minister prepares to board a plane to face fraud and corruption charges in New York, the question of whether he should stand trial in Mozambique or the US is far from settled

Manuel Chang pictured in 2016. Credit: Zitamar News

Good afternoon. While everybody expects the small executive jet to take off from Johannesburg’s Lanseria airport, taking former minister Manuel Chang to a court in New York, the debate over his extradition continues in different quarters in Mozambique.

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The arguments are for and against the idea that the right place for his trial should have been Maputo. The Attorney general’s office (PGR) used all its arguments, as well as a small fortune, to persuade the justice system in South Africa to send him back to Maputo. Frelimo also used its long-standing connections with the ANC party to try and get the case “managed” at government level.

The PGR, formally speaking, has done the job it was supposed to perform in arguing for extradition to Mozambique. Not because Chang was an ex-minister or a member of parliament, but because Mozambican citizens should be tried in their own country for offences committed on its soil. However, the Mozambican authorities only have themselves to blame for having the first ever minister to be extradited abroad since independence. When Chang was arrested at Johannesburg airport in 2019, he was a free man, despite all the evidence available of his involvement in the “hidden debts” corruption case.  In fact, it was the US move against him that finally prompted actions in Maputo that led to the arrest and trial of other prominent participants in the scandal.

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