Portuguese are returning to Venezuela, says secretary of state
Paulo Cafôfo, current Secretary of State for the Communities, former mayor of Funchal, Madeira. Image: Homem de Gouveia/ Lusa

Secretary of State for Communities under investigation for corruption

Paul Cafôfô entered government after losing to PSD/ CDS in last year’s municipal elections

The ‘scandals’ (acknowledged or perceived) affecting Portugal’s PS government have continued into another week, with allegations today focusing on Paulo Cafôfô – the current Secretary of State for the Communities, given a job within the PS executive after losing his bid to return as mayor of Funchal in last year’s municipal elections.

According to reports, Mr Cafôfô is “suspected of having participated in an alleged scheme to rig the awarding of public (funded) works to private companies in the construction and advertising sector as a way of financing the PS party in Madeira.

“In addition to Funchal, suspicions also involve other Madeiran municipalities (Machico, Porto Moniz and Ponta do Sol).

“At issue are crimes of corruption, influence peddling, economic participation in business and abuse of power”.

Also at issue is the government’s new ‘list of questions’ for weeding out ‘bad apples’ before they join the power barrel.

What PSD leader Luís Montenegro has challenged – with the support of media columnists – is whether this 36-point questionnaire should be applied to current members of the Socialist executive as well.

As Correio da Manhã’s editorial deputy director general Eduardo Dâmaso writes today – under the headline “Ethics cannot be selective” – “Paulo Cafôfô would not be covered by the (new) mechanism of scrutiny”, which up until now, appears only to be applied to future nominations for posts in government.

The government “cannot apply ethics in a selective way”, he suggests.

Allegations swirling in this latest upset are such that it will be “very incoherent” of the prime minister to fall back on the old doctrine of “let Justice deal with it (…)  If prior scrutiny is to be taken seriously, (the government) had better start thinking of what to do (in situations involving politicians) while in office”, says Dâmaso.

So another day, another ‘mess’, as the weekend saw critics from all corners (even satirists) highlight the ‘glaring holes’ in the government’s so-called ‘mechanism of scrutiny’, the last question of which asks: “Do you have knowledge of any other fact not identified above which is likely to affect conditions of exemption, impartiality and probity (…)?”

As a columnist writes in Correio da Manhã this morning, it is reminiscent of questionnaires you are asked when travelling by plane and, out of fear of terrorism, are asked whether you have had extremist thoughts, or recent contact with explosives…”

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com