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Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 71: Refusal to issue credentials threatens observation

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Source: 2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin

Continued credential refusal puts observation at risk

With thousands of independent observers still without credentials, government refused yesterday to ensure that credentials would be issued in time to monitor the elections. Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco hosted a meeting yesterday afternoon (10 October) with diplomats and foreign observers, and the top issue was the lack of credentials. Pacheco simply said he would raise the issue with the National Elections Commission.

But at a press conference that morning, Claudio Langa, spokesperson for STAE, had already refused to promise that credentials would be issued in time. He simply said they would try. Langa blamed observer groups for not providing the correct information in their applications. But the law is clear, elections commissions must respond within 5 days with any requests for more information.

The biggest problems remain in Zambezia and Nampula – precisely where Renamo hopes to elect governors and fear of fraud is high.

Sala da Paz yesterday afternoon said that 300 credentials had not been issued in Zambezia and more than 300 in Nampula. EISA with the biggest observer pool, received 799 credential yesterday, but none from Zambezia and Nampula, where 1,981 credentials are still needed; in all EISA still needs 4495 credentials.

CIP, publishers of this Bulletin, submitted applications for observer credentials in April but the Zambezia Provincial Elections Commission (CPE) refused to give credentials to CIP for the registration (but we were able to observe anyway). We submitted our application for election credentials on 17 July and eventually received an informal, verbal request for more documents, which were submitted on 27 August. Since then there has been no response, despite the five day limit in the law.

Of our 487 correspondents, CIP has not received 72 credentials from Zambezia and Nampula and there has been no contact or explanation. These have been resubmitted to the CNE in Maputo and are being processed, but there is no assurance that they can be issued in time to be sent to correspondents in remote districts in time for Tuesday’s election.

Zambezia CPE claims to have issued 8000 observer credentials and Nampula 5000, but these have mostly been issued to obscure Frelimo-aligned groups and the local STAE office simply says it has not yet had time to deal with applications from CIP, EISA and Sala da Paz.

Credentials are essential to gain admission to polling stations, to watch the counting of ballots in the polling stations, and to attend the district tabulation (which was the subject of fraud in five municipalities last year).

The other issue raised with Pacheco yesterday afternoon was threats to observer groups not to try to attend the district counts – a right they are guaranteed by the electoral law. Again Pacheco merely said he would tell CNE.

Comment: After the assassination Monday by a police death squad of the observation leader in Gaza, we had assumed that the STAE and Pacheco meetings yesterday would be an attempt to save face by allowing independent observation to go ahead. But this did not happen.

At the funeral of Anastacio Matavel, Gaza NGO Forum Executive Director, the mayor of Xai-Xai, Emido Benjamim Xavier, said that “in recent weeks we have lived though situations of terror in our city.” Since then nothing has been done to lift that cloud of terror, and some civil society people will be legitimately frightened to observe the elections, and some are withdrawing. The killing was successful.

One might have expected the CNE, STAE and the Foreign Minister to respond to the brutal murder by allowing independent observation to go ahead. Instead it appears they will say that they have 20,000 observers saying the election was free and fair, without ever mentioning that the independent observers were excluded.

Momade in Nampula, Nyusi in Matola

The two main presidential candidates will close their election campaigns in Maputo and Nampula. The programmes of the presidential candidates have not yet been officially announced but the Bulletin understands that Filipe Nyusi chose the country’s largest city, Matola, for the campaign’s final rally on Satruday at the Matola citadel, the former facilities of Radio Mozambique on national road number 2. Ossufo Momade chose the country’s largest province and his homeland, Nampula, to end the campaign. MDM candidate Daviz Simango is expected to close the campaign in the city of Beira, Sofala, his bastion.

Escalation of violence in last days of campaign

Shooting at the MDM list head in Manhica, Maputo; Renamo members injured in Mugovolas, Nampula, in an attack by Frelimo supporters on the eve of Osssufo Momade’s arrival; and blocking the entourage of Renamo’s candidate for governor in Cahora Bassa, Tete. This is the election campaign balance today, with 2 days to go. Campaigning ends Saturday and they can be no campaigning in the two days before Tuesday’s election.

MDM list head shot at in Maputo province

Two shots were fired at the car with MDM’s list head and candidate for governor in Maputo Province, Augusto Phelembe, piercing the windscreen without hitting the passengers. Also in the car was MDM Political Commission member Elias Langa. The attack took place at the administrative post of Maluana, Manhica district, north of Maputo.

Augusto Phelembe left Maputo city yesterday morning to campaign in Maluana and suspects the gunmen followed him from the capital and were part of the MDM entourage. At around 3 pm, along National Road Number 1 (N1), two young people who were riding in a white Rutz car stopped the caravan, pretending to be MDM supporters wanting campaign shirts. With the caravan stopped, two shots were fired at the vehicle carrying Phelembe and Langa. The perpetrators fled and Phelembe abandoned his campaign in Maluana.

Attacked waiting for Ossufo Momade

Frelimo supporters attacked their Renamo opponents in Mugovolas, Nampula, and in the subsequent brawl 12 people were injured, including 5 seriously hurt; 5 people were arrested. The attack took place in neighbourhood 72 yesterday morning (10 October) when Renamo supporters were waiting for the arrival of their party’s presidential candidate, Ossufo Momade, our correspondents report.

When Frelimo supporters also campaigning in the same neighbourhood realized that Renamo supporters were on the scene, they tried to make it impossible for them to receive their presidential candidate, and battle resulted.  Police fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd and restore order.

Renamo supporters attacked in Tete

Renamo campaign caravans in Tete have been blocked three times by Frelimo supporters in Cahora Bassa and Magoe. In two incidents, party supporters ended up in brawls, our correspondents report.

Frelimo supporters used three vehicles to block the road in Mucumbura, Magoe. to prevent the Renamo caravan from passing on Wednesday (9 October). The entourage, including Ricardo Tomas, Renamo candidate for governor, had left Mercado Grande in Neighbourhood 3 for a campaign day when it was blocked. Police escorting the Renamo caravan had to intervene to restore order.

Yesterday (10 October) in the village of Chitima, two dozen Frelimo supporters went to the Caphaia market to obstruct Renamo’s campaign. Frelimo supporters approached two vehicles carrying Renamo campaigners from Magoe, leading to a fight. No injuries were reported and police intervened to restore order. But then Frelimo supporters went to Renamo headquarters at the residence of one of its members and threw stones at it. Renamo supporters gathered to defend the headquarters, and again police stopped the attack.

Visibly intoxicated Frelimo supporters engaged in skirmishes with Renamo counterparts in the Julius Nyerere neighbourhood directly in front of the police station in Songo, Cahora Bassa, yesterday. Frelimo supporters used three minibuses to block the road to prevent the passage of two cars with open backs carrying Renamo supporters. Also at that spot, Frelimo supporters prevented Renamo counterparts from drinking water in a public fountain allegedly built by Frelimo. Police came to the scene and urged Renamo supporters of drive in a different direction. No one was detained at the scene, our correspondents reported.

Unclear if people will vote in Cabo Delgado insurgency area

“At this time the Cabo Delgado Provincial Elections Commission and STAE district directorates are monitoring daily with the competent authorities the security level to decide whether or not polling stations are opened at previously mapped locations,” said Claudio Langa, spokesperson for the Technical Secretariat of Electoral Administration (STAE) at a press conference in Maputo Thursday (10 October)

Cabo Delgado has been under armed attacks since October 2017, which threatens to derail elections in many coastal villages in the Quissanga, Macomia, Mocimboa da Praia, and Palma districts.

For the rest of the country, STAE says that the logistical and security conditions are in place for elections next Tuesday.

At the press conference, Langa also reported:

There are 12,945,921 registered voters who will vote at 20,570 polling stations, including 408 abroad. Voting material has already begun to be sent to the provinces. “The provinces of Manica, Tete and Sofala will receive the materials Thursday and in Gaza, Inhambane, and Maputo-City and Province, the materials could be allocated Friday,” said Langa.

Training for 160,000 candidates to be polling station staff (MMVs, membros das mesas de voto) finishes today; 143,990 will be selected. Polling station staff are paid 3700 MT ($60) for the head (presidente), 3500 MT for the secretary, and 3200 MT each for other five staff, plus 200 MT ($3) each for food on voting day.

STAE says it has already accredited 19,900 national observers, 390 international observers, 2,100 national journalists and 85 international journalists and continues to register a high demand for accreditation. With more than 5,000 requests pending at STAE offices, Claudio Langa said that STAE is working to issue the requested credentials but does not guarantee that all requests will be fulfilled before the elections.

Mobile phone use at the polling stations is prohibited only for polling station staff and “the mobile phone ban does not apply to observers or journalists,” Langa said. This means that observers and journalists can use mobile phones at the polling station and use them to capture photographs or video, which are essential for evidence of MMV misconduct. This follows confusion over an instruction issued by the CNE which prevents polling station staff (MMVs) for using mobile telephone, except for the polling station president and then only to contact officials and only in public. However, to ensure secrecy of the vote, all photography is banned near the voting booth where voters mark their ballot paper.

A voter database will be available through the STAE website (http://www.stae.org.mz) so that any voter can check the location of their polling station. The data base should have been available from yesterday, but appeared not to be working this morning.

People who have lost voters cards can still vote, but at a large polling centre such as a school with polling stations in each classroom, the voter does not know which queue to join, because the polling station number is on the lost card. This caused considerable confusion in past elections, and STAE introduced a new system in the by-elections in Nampula and municipal elections last year.

At polling centres with more than one polling station, STAE promises to position technicians with computers and the electoral register, so that the voter can look up their name and be told which queue to join.

Langa also promised to publish district election results on the institution’s website but warning that difficulties in communicating with remote areas could delay the processing of the results.

Mother kills son over Frelimo T-shirt

Diveriasse Sinoia, 27, was killed with his own hoe during an argument over a Frelimo t-shirt. The incident took place on Sunday (6 October) in the Nancholi district of Angonia district, Tete.

The discussion began when the mother offered her son a Frelimo t-shirt. He asked his mother to give him another shirt to offer his wife. The victim’s mother promised to do so as soon as she could get another one. However, the dissatisfied son began to attack his mother. She grabbed a hoe and dealt hard blows to the left side of the head of the son who died at the scene, our correspondents report.

Nancholi’s 4th-tier leader, Xadreque Sabao, confirmed the incident. “He thought his mother was given many shirts and had hidden some,” Sabao told the Bulletin.

At the time of the event the son was drunk. Local people say this is not the first time the young man attacked his mother, our correspondents report.

Police went to the residence where the victim died in the Monday morning (8 September). The mother fled to uncertain parts after the event. The victim left a wife and two minor children.

But the incident shows why, in a very poor country, party t-shirts are valued and why parties hand them out.

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. eleicoes@cipmoz.org bit.ly/GenEl2019

ARTICLES MAY BE FREELY REPRINTED but please cite the source: “2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”.

Previous newsletters are posted on http://bit.ly/2H066Kg

There are two archives of historic elections data, at IESE on http://www.iese.ac.mz/eleicoes-resultado/ and at London School of Economics on http://bit.ly/MozElDaa. The LSE archive now has detailed 2013 and 2014 results, by polling station.

© 2019, ZITAMAR NEWS. All rights reserved.

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