By Estácio Valoi
Arco Iris a supposed Christian and charity institution ruled by Heidi Baker under the shade of saving souls in god’s name enriching themselves involving millions of dollar from illicit tourism, tax avoidance and evasion, illegal business activities.
Our investigation started in 2011 the first time we interviewed the Ministry Arco Iris in Pemba City of Cabo Delgado including customer service department, other local organization working of children supporting areas, social affairs and migration department to the current year 2019.
Hopeless, these people find themselves ‘protected under institutions’ such as Ministry Arco Iris – Comunhão da Colheita in Mozambique, a ‘non-profit’ organization(s) which started in 1995 in Maputo. Later, in 2014, it established in Pemba City in front of the beautiful luxurious coastal line where their office is based, then embarked on acquiring land by huge hectares, some for agricultural activities. With at least three companies opened, they went on to the expensive lands in the luxurious coast line of Maringanha – Pemba city, for the construction of a luxurious complex composed by a five-star hotel, Gym, university, football field and got also involved on illegal tourism business.
Mozambique Oficial Gazette n.º 142, IIIª Series, from 2016 November 28 Arco Íris – Iris Ministries, INC).” It contradicts itself and the Christian institution eligibility to develop commerce, industry, tourism activities.
BR – Chapter I, Article One, Denomination and Nature, “MAI – Ministry Arco Iris is a collective person of private law on the national scale with no lucrative means, ruled by the Mozambican legislation.”
Accordingly to Arco Iris Constitution on ARTICLE Fourth
One) MAI – aligned A) MAI allowed to exercise the following activities: promote and hold Christian cults with God, then under legal permission and deliberation of its General Assembly implement other complementary activities with the objective of achieving their purposes; b) Promote and coordinate actions to help children and un-vulnerable or vulnerable youth; c) Support social and community integration through agricultural production, small animal production; d) Children protection, education, and child training, establishing different level education and teaching in accordance with the national education system; e) Protection and promotion of children itys health via implementation of preventive medicine care and rehabilitation; f) implementing services based on specialized technicians in the scientific areas, teaching in MAI education establishments at all the levels; g) Import and commerce of material and technical and educational equipment.
The Mozambican law, under the Commercial Code (ARTICLE 14 ) states that: “Collective people with non-profit interests are forbidden to exercise any business corporation activity (commercial).” This applies to Ministry Arco Iris as a collective person with the object of its nature being on spiritual and immaterial interests. So IRIS and its subsidiary Christian Religious organization “Comunhão da Colheita, both spiritual and immaterial non-profit institutions cannot exercise commercial or business corporation activities.”
This means that IRIS cannot implement commercial and tourism activities, and the construction of the luxury complex with hotel, gym is illegal.
This, coming from IRIS’ administrator Sérgio Lázaro Mondlane in an interview tree years ago with our investigator, the Christian ‘non-profit’ organization was providing a free health clinic, feeding programs, agriculture projects, drilling wells, bible teaching, primary and secondary schools, university, hotel, gym, Bible schools, to be constructed in a land already acquired in Maringanhe, in the neighborhood of Pemba City.
“From there, the ministry has expanded to include more well-drillings, free health clinics that service the poor and sick, feeding programs, primary and secondary schools, cottage industries and now over 5,000 churches in Mozambique and a total of over 10,000 churches in over 20 nations,” where ARCO's headquarters is currently based since 2004.
Their activities seem impressive, legitimate, lucrative, which explains the tourism empire and its wealth, not only in massive portions of land, mansions, yachts, small aircrafts allegedly to transport children and members from the center. But in the end it gets rented by an ambassador to fly to Ibo Island and spend his holydays.
The center is supporting about “7,000 children last year 2013 and later today 2014, 125.” It is not clear where all the money comes from, what facilities in the name of the religion they bring to these people in need into Mozambique. The fact is that, using god’s name, the senior members of the organization are becoming rich, the institution became the major touristic establishment in Cabo Delgado and some of their activities are unknown by the majority of the people in the Province, including some government officials (Individuals). Says Lazaro
According to a high internal at Arco Iris Ministry Centre, not all the children inside the institution were in need, with poor living conditions, collected from the streets, ‘Instead of giving an opportunity to other children, they would enroll their nephews and nieces, even workers’ children were taken to the center and told not to open their mouths by their own internal family members. It was dishonest.
Apparently, the year after IRIS connived with the local social affairs department responsible for the children’s tutelage, rules changed. Social affairs had to carry on an inquiry to find out if the child was really in need, an orphan, and only then admitted into the institution.
“Arco Iris itself has never collected children from the street. Arco Iris just wants to help some children. And an investigation was held by Cabo Delagado’s social affairs department, and they discovered that some children had their parents working in the institution. They also took into consideration children whose parents are alive but live in poor conditions to remain in the center until they reach eighteen years old of age, when it is time to leave the center, back to their families. Arco Iris would then carry on paying their studies in the university in case the child wished to continue.”
Tax avoidance and evasion
According to the Mozambican law there is a ‘free taxation’ import of goods for religious institutions such as charities, churches, non-profit organizations. Arco IRIS, under free taxation on god’s tax heaven , has avoiding and evading tax evasion, carrying on with illegal tourism, business . As the group of lawyers we our journalist did contact and as they stated ‘ Accordingly to the Mozambican law, under the Commercial Code (ARTICLE 14 )some of this organizations have as they payments high amounts on salaries, administrative and equipment costs to justify the tax issues. And in the case of IRIS they are not allowed to be involve in business, tourism activities.
As a touristic institution, thousands of foreigners – 1,200 people from the USA – annually arrive in Pemba and today tuition is $4,000 per person “only for logistic. Very expensive.” Flight ticket, health insurance, food… not included. Also visa and “please also note that Iris Global has a corporate account with LAM. If you turn in a copy of your LAM schedule to the hospitality contact at Pemba, Heidi Baker will get mileage credits! “The IRIS website states that the average per year is 1,300-1,400 people”. But the number of visitors is more than what is claimed by the administrator. And after application contacts are done directly by email.
According to the Mozambican Police reports in Pemba, during the first semester of 2013 they registered 55,464 foreign visitors, a small reduction compared with the same period of 2012 a registration 55,537. Many visa entries were family visits, gas prospection (work), business and tourism. What kind of visas are their visitors using, how many really come to Mozambique? If we sum up the number or ‘alleged missionaries in tourism per year, could be 14,000 guests * 4,000 USD = 5,600,000 USD minimum.
While investigating and as Lazaro suggested to “ The person has to do its own booking, all the spenditures , the missionarie its responsability. Can contact our charch in German or go to our website www.Irisministry.org, on the dates June 1, 2014 to August 5, 2014, we did apply trough Arco Iris- Global Iris its website ‘ “God is calling His sons and daughters’ to visit Pemba, our application sent from Africa, Europe and America and the costs were “ Cost: US $3,000 tuition (covering room and board, local transportation, and a diet of basic African cuisine)” for the basic requirements for short-term volunteers. “The ministry is charges us a lot of money. This amount only refers to our stayed here in Mozambique. Then we have to pay more USD 2000 for our flight ticket, visa issues, some tourists, alleged missionaries as IRIS defend, told our journalist traveling with them on LAM flight from JHB to Pemba- Mozambique 2014. All increased. “ When i say USD 4000 , this amount ios for all the logistic part. flight ticket are missionaries their own expenses.” Enphasises Lazaro
Missionaries - tourists
There are two sides, each with its own school. There are the missionaries that live here, in Mozambique, which have been here for a long time. Basically those who have a DIRE, a document that says they can live in Mozambique. Some have contracts, with their own DIREs. Those who come for a short period are visitors. In this case, some come to participate in this school and some come as tourists, coming to see the work of the institution.
The people cannot distinguish that there are the missionaries, which for the school is from June to August, about 3 months. After that there is a 1 month break and then in middle October others come. In between that period some come to visit. There is a specific number of the school itself, and each week or each month some visitors come and go. Those are the ones that say they come for tourism in Mozambique.
“The average of tourism visitors depends on the season. For example, now you can get ten or eight, but in the season to come it will be a busy season, a season with many people and just now there will be a high flow and dynamics all along the town. An average, maybe a maximum of eighty are visitors. Because they come from many places, sometimes it’s thirty, others fifty, twenty, two or three. So those numbers increase. Maybe a maximum of a hundred or less. Maybe that is the number I can give in this period of June to December.”
As Lazaro Arco Iris Lazaro “Here we do have our children its daily meals, the same food for the missionaries or they can go and eat outside.” fact is the normal is to see on the streets groups of these alleged missionaries having their daily meals in Pemba restaurants, shopping bags of food in local shops and take with them into IRIS huge compound, and “missionaries- visitants per year 700,900, 1200. In August we have about 400 and something, the number reduce in October, December to around 300.”
Specialized IRIS marketing department on tourism
Church, Arco Iris its branch around the world also via IRIS GLOBAL, a major worldwide Christian NGO, with huge properties keep promoting , publicizing about their tourism destination from Europe, mainly US from where 90% of the people are coming from, all the way to Pemba. “We have to limit the number of missionaries because we always fully booked .” Says Lazaro
Travel agency and IRIS
Following the instruction stated on the Ministry its website ,for Heidi Baker, to keep accumulating mileages from all the thousands of tourists allowing her to use this mileages -free flights, Baker advise all the travelers to avoid traveling by bus from JHB to Maputo proposing their business travel agency ‘ Dana” .
“However, this service is unreliable and has many other inconveniences. We do not recommend this alternative to our visitors. Please note that the Mozambican Airlines (LAM) is currently not part of the International Airline Reservation System. Booking flights, therefore with LAM can be a challenge. Currently, the easiest way to book LAM flights for domestic travel in Mozambique is through the Dana Agency in South Africa. Phone them or work with them by email.”
Mileage-money for group of people its benefits
According to sources Heidi and her small group of friends have considerable benefits, from travelling to staying in luxurious hotels, a fact that those inside the IRIS ministry do not deny or accept: “it is difficult to say she does it. She is a very popular figure in Mozambique and even more abroad. I cannot say for sure if that happens because she is a worker and maybe she is preaching in other places and being given other income for herself. She is not in charge of the money and accounts of the institution.”
Properties and the business
The administrator, Sérgio Lázaro, in his statements during our interview held in 2012 and later in 2014, and 2018, as our sources, confirm that IRIS has a small 6-8 seater airplane, a boat (Yacht), industries such as “IRIS Industry and other two companies, lands including one 57 ha under dispute managed by other people.”
“Maybe the hotel will become house for the teachers of the coming university. I would believe that the children at some stage will benefit. Iris has many bursaries, which it is giving to some youngsters in Pemba Catholic University (UCM),” said Lázaro.
But the second small aircraft, after the first one crashed, and the yachts were never intended to transport children or, as Sérgio says, boats “for medicine distribution in remote areas,The small aircraft was bought with money from donation to make trips. Not only private trips for pleasure to the islands or countries also to divulge God’s word” but mainly for touristic activities, rented by tourists on their holidays, including ambassadors in their holidays to Quirimbas Archipelago in Cabo.
Arco Iris and Comunhão da Colheita are the same institution
“Arco Iris is a NGO looking to charity, vulnerable, helping communities here and in the districts and “Comunhão na Colheita” is the Church, that is why we do have people going out to spread God’s word, raising awareness. But both organizations share the same house and we cannot say that these cars belong to this one or that,” says our fourth IRIS internal source. But the perception of Pemba’s tourism chain, children social support institutions or entities is not clear. “We don’t know what is Arco Iris really doing. We see their people coming and eating is our restaurant,” as Peter and others say.
By creating the ‘Comunhão da Colheita” name as its main branch, they can now cover some illegal activities. The Ministry is still involved in land disputes involving 57ha which cost the Ministry 50,000 USD. Because Arco Iris cannot be involved in business, it has been trying to change the process and use “Comunhão da Colheita”. The process is on hold in the provincial agriculture department.
Where does the money come from
According to the organization’s constitution, the money comes from donations, offers, other partners including IRIS Global the ‘main partner, private companies, including the Church Comunhão da Colheita “IRIS is Comunhão da Colheita present in almost the entire world our mainly offer colector.” and the organization’s annual budget is estimated in USD 6,363,636.36 “for activities that are not even known, We do have this school,-it is small school with two classrooms inside our compound with capacity to accommodate 3.500 students. Until last year 2011 we were teaching 9 grades. For this year 2012 will introduce 10 grade but the majority are extern students ,Internal children are only 132. ”said Sérgio Lázaro.
Our journalist was back in IRIS in 2014 and was informed that the number of classroom did increse to about 30 and one IT room. But the number of rooms we saw were less than 15.
The IRIS constitution states on its Article 8, the ministry is based under (Rights) a) Equal participation on their activities. But in reality the ‘rights‘ implementation differs. “Confusion between nationals and foreigners, discrimination, superiority” and as our other internal source says “superiority is what makes damage sometimes. But the problem persists with missionaries leading or do the work of local members. The ones that comes to help, in the end up do less work than us locals, so they should be so considered lower, and so the one that is from here should ascend.”
IRIS’ hunger for land was not only about acquiring the Land Right (DUAT) for the land where the organization is constructing its luxury complex, but also accumulate huge hectares of it around the country, mainly in Cabo Delgado, some of them for their empire construction, living house, classrooms, mansions for the board members. This while the children kept living in houses with low conditions. Also land for commercial agriculture activities such as the land in MIEZE locality – Pemba, a process with many irregularities. From fraud to acquiring the land’s right DUAT to alleged corruption according to the documents in our possession and records from some internal source leading the process.
The Ministry Arco Iris tried to use their branch ‘Comunhão da Colheita’ after the Cabo Delgado agriculture department refused to grant them the permit. Other mischievous attempts were used, though frustrated. That is said by our internal source in the business whose name will not be revealed for security reasons. ‘In 2014 IRIS did try to lure the State to illegally grant the DUAT. Illegal keeping the land. They wanted to change the DUAT request submitted on behalf of ARCO IRIS’s name to their branch ‘Comunhão da Colheita’. But at the end they had to create a commercial society and submit the process as investment of foreign institution as the Mozambicam law demands.” An NGO cannot be INCORPORATED, like a commercial society such as Lda! So IRIS had to change from IRIS INC via Mozambican Foreign Ministry.
With object in the agriculture sector (production, consultancy, etc) , the Utopia Agrotourism Company, Lda was settled, registered in Mozambique in 2008, land explored. CATU Project at the time approved by the Centre for Investment Promotion CPI (CPI ao n°04/2009) had the land from which required a DUAT via SPGC for the about 57 ha in Mieze-Naminawe. With DUAT granted in 2009, the land use had to start within two years because the owners were foreigners. In terms of investment, it was about 200,000, employing 45 workers until the day “Heidi Baker fell in love with it’ and decided to pay USD 50,000.”
Arco IRS had to have a DUAT on its own name, and from 2010 to 2012 IRIS was struggling to have the Right of Land Use. Unfortunately until 2010 July to March 2012 no DUAT was granted to the Christian institution in a process where IRIS according to the documents submitted it under his name, a foreign organization and not under ‘Comunhão da Colheita’