Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 64-65: Observation blocked as 6000 observers refused credentials


Source: 2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin

Election observation blocked; 6000 observers refused credentials

Provincial Elections Commissions (CPEs) are refusing to approve more than 6000 civil society observers, with particular problems in Nampula and Zambezia. In the largest civil society observation in the history of Mozambican elections, the organised observer groups intend to have more than 11,000 observers in one-third of all polling stations. But it now appears this will be blocked by CPEs.

National and international observation groups also complain of obstruction of their observation. Both the refusals and obstruction are in violation of the electoral law.

Independent observers are key to preventing ballot box stuffing and other forms of fraud, and Nampula and Zambezia are both the largest provinces and the ones where Renamo hopes to win a majority and elect the governor. Zambezia, in particular, had serious fraud in last year’s municipal election, so observation is seen as important. Observation will also be important in Gaza, where it is alleged that 300,000 ghost voters were registered.

The electoral law says that civil society organisation can observe and that credentials must be issued within five days of application. CIP, publishers of this bulletin, applied for credentials more than a month ago in Zambezia and Nampula, and they have not been issued. Other observer groups report similar problems.

There are two problems: political bias and lack of staff. Observer groups that tried to submit applications for additional observers yesterday in Zambezia found no one in the STAE office to receive the applications – or to process the thousands not yet issued. One observer coordinator noted that in the office in one province of the person dealing with credentials, there was a triage. Applications from Frelimo-linked organisations were put in one pile and processed quickly; those from independent organisations such as CIP were put in another pile and pushed to one side.

Observers are also having problems in the field. Credentials are really only needed on polling days and for the count, because they allow admission to polling stations and counting centres. The campaign, by definition, is public as parties try to gain support. But there are widespread reports of observers being singled out and told they cannot watch rallies or take pictures without credentials.

In several provinces the Provincial Elections Commission says that observer credentials issued by the National Elections Commission for the entire country are not recognised within the province. In Gaza, both national and international observers with CNE badges were recently barred from observing because the did not have provincial credentials, which Gaza has stopped issuing.

The problem appears to be with provincial elections commissions (CPEs), which will not accept instructions from the National Elections Commission. In some provinces CPEs and technical secretariats are telling observer coordinators that all credentials have been issued, when 1000s have not been.

With only 11 days left before the election, it will require a major effort by the CNE and CPEs to issue more than 6000 credentials.

CNE head hits out at Frelimo violations

“Bad behaviour” by Frelimo was criticised in a statement today by the President of the National Elections Commission, Sheik Abdul Carimo. Without mentioning Frelimo by name, he cited “obstructions of party entourages in Xai-Xai, Manlakazi, Chokwe, Limpopo and Bilene in Gaza,” which were cases of Frelimo blocking the entourage of Daviz Simango, MDM presidential candidate.

He also said, again without naming the ruling party, that the widespread attempts to collect voters cards and card numbers by Frelimo, especially at schools, is illegal and must stop. “We alert all voters that they should never give their voters card to any person or organisation; the document is personal and non-transferable.” He added that people had no obligation to tell anyone else their voters number and that collecting numbers was also illegal.

The unusual, if camouflaged, criticism of Frelimo is partly a response to our reporting of the blocking of Daviz Simango’s campaign in Gaza and Inhambane and the widespread collection of voters cards and numbers.

In contrast to Daviz, Ossufo had free passage in Inhambane and Gaza

Ossufo Momade began his campaign in the southern part of the country on 30 September and for three days worked unhindered in Inhambane and Gaza. After Frelimo supporters made the MDM Daviz Simango campaign unfeasible in both provinces, Ossufo went unchallenged from the Save River to Manjacaze.

Ossufo Momade started the campaign in the Massinga and Vilanculos districts, where his rallies drew large crowds. Renamo’s best results in the municipal elections last year in Inhambane were in these two northern districts of the province. In Massinga, Renamo won 35% of the vote for the municipal assembly and in Vilanculo won 28%.

The next day, 1 October, Ossufo Momade headed for Morrumbene, Maxixe and Zavala districts, further south of the province, without obstruction.

Yesterday, 2 October, Momade moved to the Frelimo bastion of Gaza province, with rallies in Xai-Xai, Mandlakazi, and Chokwe. In all these places Momade mobilized a large following and there were no incidents, unlike David Simango last week.

In Mandlakazi, 300 Frelimo supporters left the party campaign to attend Ossufo Momade’s rally in front of the Eduardo Mondlane municipal market in the 25 de Junho neighbourhood.

During his campaign, in every district, Ossufo Momade promises to create more jobs, better roads, education and wages.

There was only one incident, when a Renamo sympathizer assaulted a local City Council official named Admiro Munguambe for allegedly speaking injurious words against Renamo. The victim is a Frelimo supporter and sustained minor head injuries.

1 dead in ‘Renamo Junta’ attack

One person died and three were injured this morning (October 3) in an attack by gunmen in Gorongosa, Sofala on a Nagi bus travelling from Nampula to Maputo.. The attack took place on the main north-south N1 read near the Pungwe river bridge between Gorongosa and Nhamatanda. The victims were evacuated to Gorongosa Rural Hospital for medical treatment.

The guerrillas ambushed the bus next to a charcoal yard, our correspondents report.

Later, at a press conference in Beira, Sofala Police Spokesperson Daniel Macuacua said the attackers were four men armed with AKM-style assault rifles. Witnesses at the scene reported four dead but police confirmed only one.

This is the second attack in the Pungwe zone and the fourth in the central region since the start of the election campaign. All are blamed on the breakaway ‘Renamo Junta’.

Using children to stop a rally

Frelimo handed out balls to many children and then spent the day organizing football matches on the playing field of Mateus Sansao Muthemba School in Tete on Saturday 26 September. The only problem was that Renamo presidential candidate Ossufo Momade had scheduled his rally for that afternoon on the school plying field. Not wanting to disrupt the playing children, he had to move the rally to Kwachena Kunharitanda market.

Frelimo had done the same thing in Doa, Tete on 11 September where children were organised to play soccer on a field where Renamo had scheduled a rally by its candidate for governor of the province.

Innocent fun, or using children to harass the opposition? All parties are using children, particularly in party parades, often in party t-shirts and hats and carrying party flags and posters. For MDM this included the 16 September parade at the 5th Congress market in Macia, Gaza, and in Funhalouro, Inhambane.

Children joined the Frelimo march on 22 September in Catandica, Barue, Manica; in Machaze on 28 September; and in Milange, Zambezia.

In Nampula, dozens of children stood on the street with Renamo flags and posters in Nacala-a-Velha district on 16 September and in Moma on 6 September.

The Network of Communicators and Friends of the Child (RECAC) said in a press release that images of children parading with political party symbols jeopardize the safety and well-being of child: “RECAC calls on all political parties, guardians and society at large to be vigilant against child participation in electoral campaigns.”

Mossurize Murder not political, say police

Police in Manica confirmed today (3 October) the murder of Frelimo’s circle secretary in Paunde, Mossurize, Manica, but say there are no political motivations behind the murder, our correspondents report. “The crime occurred at a time of election campaign and coincidentally with an active member of a political party, but this is not a determining factor in claiming that it was politically motivated,” Police Chief Public Relations in Manica, Mario Arnassa, told reporters. He said three individuals went to the house, shot and killed the man, seized his motorbike, and fled.

Frelimo’s Manica representative Abel Albuquerque confirmed there was no evidence to say the murder was politically motivated.

Editor: Joseph Hanlon | Publisher: Edson Cortez | News Editor: Borges Nhamire

Reporters: Aldemiro Bande, Magda Mendonça, Sheila Nhancale, Graciano Claudio, João Machassel
Published by CIP, Centro de Integridade Pública (Public Integrity Centre),
Rua Fernão Melo e Castro, no 124, Maputo.

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