Mozambique Update: Renamo takes Nampula


Paulo Vahanie of Renamo was elected mayor of Nampula Wednesday 14 March in the second round of a ballot that followed the assassination of the previous MDM mayor, Mahamudo Amurane. Vahanie won by a margin of more than 16,000 votes on a sharply increased turnout - 32.5% compared to 24.9% in the first round and 25.8% in 2013. Vahanie won 58.5% of the vote, compared to Frelimo's Amisse Cololo. (There is a complete results table in the attached pdf.)

The second round was required because none of the five candidates in the first round received a majority of the votes.

Frelimo recognised the Renamo victory in a statement by the head of the Nampula Frelimo election brigade, Tomaz Salomao. The results were announced Friday by the district elections commission, but will be corrected in the next week or two by the National Elections Commission which rechecks all spoiled and protested ballot papers.

Commentary: Is no one responsible?

Again in Nampula Wednesday, there were delays in opening of polling stations. At four schools polling stations had no indelible ink for voters to dip their finger in to stop them voting again. At one school, register books were missing. At another school there were no voting booths. Yet another school found material from the 24 January first round, according to the Votar Mocambique survey of polling stations.

Material is delivered to polling stations in kits, which are made up centrally by STAE before polling day. So how did this happen? If a bottle of ink or a register book is missing, it means no one in STAE checked the kit.

Throughout the world there is a system for checking orders before delivery. Someone inspects the order to see if it is correct and then puts a small slip of paper <senha?> with their name or number into the box. If the order is wrong, then a named inspector is held responsible.

The system in STAE appears to be that no one is responsible for anything. A first step for STAE should be that a named person inspects the kit before it is sealed, and if something is later found to be missing, they are publicly held responsible.

It also offers the chance of pride and a reward. If all polling stations have the correct kit, then the named inspector should be proud of their work and could be publicly praised.         jh

CNE lost 347 Nampula voters

Results Friday for the Nampula second round and the official CNE results of the 24 January first round say there were 296,590 registered voters. Yet the 2014 register supposedly used in January and distributed for Wednesday's second round has 296,937 voters. Where are the 347 missing voters? And are others missing? There were reports of people with 2014 voters cards who were not on the register.

CNE has part of a website

The CNE and STAE have proudly unveiled their new website, and, which does have lovely pictures and some useful news items. Unfortunately the section on registration, which starts Monday, still says "Processando conteudo..." - under construction. On the section of legislation, some laws do not open. The final results of the first round in Nampula are posted, but not in the results section. "Despacho n.º 4 de 9 de Marco Cadernos 2a volta Nampula" is listed as available, but is not. The video on registration is from 2013.

Were MMVs involved in false voting?

In prior elections there has been noted a form of polling station staff (MMVs, membros das mesas do voto) involvement in false voting, especially in elections with low turnout. Total numbers of ballot papers must match the numbers of voters ticked off on the voters register, but late in the day with no queue and no one watching, it has been noted that staff have ticked off names of people who did not vote and added corresponding ballot papers to the box.

Several incidents occurred during the polling Wednesday which suggested a more extreme form of this. Several incidents were reported where people attempted to vote in the morning and were told they had already voted - even though there was no ink on their finger, showing they had not voted.

The Peace Room (Sala da Paz) reported an incident at Namicopo in which a woman was found with a list of 24 voters names and numbers on Frelimo note paper that she said she was supposed to hand to a member of the polling station staff. The reason was not clear. Were these people who were known to not be voting, because they had died or were away, and whose names could be ticked off for false ballots?

Votar Mocambique reported two incidents of ballot papers outside polling stations, both at the polling centre at Nthota primary school. In one polling station, a ballot paper from a different polling station was found in the voting cabin, where the voter fills in their ballot paper. And a Frelimo secretary was found with ballot papers already filled in at the cafe “O Cantinho da Lola” near the Nthota primary school.

All of these incidents required the connivance of polling station staff who were willing to sneak ballot papers out of the polling station or vote for someone illegally.

Commentary: In many countries, the integrity of the election is guaranteed by civil servants who are genuinely neutral. In Mozambique the electoral law assumes that election staff are partisan and integrity is guaranteed by party representatives at all levels, from polling station staff up the members of the National Elections Commission, watching each other. To some extent this works - the woman with the list of 24 voters was caught and arrested. But illegal voting and ballot papers smuggled out of the polling station were not caught. There is a serious problem that opposition party polling station staff are not adequately trained and alert enough to catch misconduct by the ruling party - so the system depends on opposition vigilance that opposition parties cannot maintain. This points to the more serious problem in the legal structure: if the law assumes cheating and partisan behaviour, then it actually encourages partisan election officials to cheat when they are not being watched.  jh

Registration starts Monday with doubtful equipment

To keep the budget down, electoral registration begins Monday with equipment used in the 2014 registration, albeit with improved cameras and printers. But a pilot registration in December showed that the old system was not working well, including difficulties in reading fingerprints and short battery life; it was taking 8 minutes to issue a voter's card instead of 3 as planned.

Mozambican law requires a new registration every five years, at the start of each electoral cycle. There will be municipal elections on 10 October 2018 and provincial and national elections in October 2019. There will be a 60 day registration period this year and next year, but this year it will be only in the districts which contain the 53 municipalities, and will be from 17 March to 19 May.

The decision to register in entire districts is, in part, to discourage people from going into the nearest town to register, which would allow them to improperly vote in municipal elections - people will be told to register at their nearest school (or other traditional voting location).

The national voting age population is about 14.5 million, of whom 8.5 mn reside in the districts that will have a registration this year, but only 3.5 mn live in the municipalities, according to Claudio Langa, spokesperson for STAE (Secretariado Tecnico da Administracao Eleitoral).

There will 2,377 registration brigades with 7,242 members, covering 3,234 registration posts. Registration will be every day from 8.00 to 16.00. Registration will cost MT 850 mn ($14 mn) from the state budget, without donor funding.


Mozambique Political Process Bulletin

Editor: Joseph Hanlon | Publisher: Adriano Nuvunga | News Editor: Borges Nhimire
Number 21 - 18 March 2018
Published by CIP, Centro de Integridade Pública (Public Integrity Centre),
Rua Fernão Melo e Castro, nº 124, Maputo.
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