Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 74: Four provinces block observation – will voters stay as check on count?


Source: 2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin

Four provinces blocking independent observation

  1. Four provinces are trying to prevent independent observation – Nampula, Zambezia, Tete and Gaza. With no time left, 3103 EISA observers still do not have credentials. EISA is the biggest independent observation coalition, coordinating five independent civil society observer groups. Today (Monday) only 276 credentials were issued to EISA, 115 in Tete and 161 in Maputo province. Yesterday just 248 credentials were issued for EISA – 110 in Nampula and 138 in Manica. Only 129 were issued Saturday, all in Maputo city. In the past four days, no credentials were issued to EISA independent observers in Gaza or Zambezia. Even the Catholic Church has been denied election observation credentials in Tete, where there is a concerted effort to prevent independent electoral observation.

Zambezia says it has issued an incredible 19,700 observer credentials and Nampula has issued 9,935. In Zambezia and Nampula thousands of Frelimo-aligned observers have been given credentials and will flood polling stations tomorrow, while independent observers have been denied credentials. In Zambezia, EISA requested 1433 credentials, which by law must be issued, but so far only 206 of the 19,700 credentials are for EISA.

In the other three key provinces, Nampula, Tete and Gaza, fewer than half of EISA observers have credentials.

International observers have been told since yesterday that EISA groups are being given credentials in Zambezia and Tete, but none have been handed over in Zambezia and very few in Tete. It is possible that credential will be held back until tomorrow morning after voting has started, and it is too late to get the credentials to observers in remote areas, as happened in Nampula in 2014.

Tete, Zambezia and Nampula are key battlefields where Renamo hopes to elect governors and gain a majority for presidential candidate Ossufo Momade; Gaza has registered 300,000 more voters than the census says there are voting age adults and the fear is that these ghosts will vote for Frelimo. The opposition fears that without observers to check, Frelimo will use fraud to improperly inflate it vote in these four key provinces

Battle to control voting

Electoral management bodies in Mozambique have fallen into disrepute and increasingly, after voting, people want to remain in the vicinity of polling stations to “control or oversee the vote”, most notably in opposition zones. This is openly supported by Renamo and MDM, the two largest opposition parties.

The electoral law allows independent observers, party delegates, and party-nominated polling station staff within the polling stations. They should provide adequate monitoring and control over misconduct during the counting of ballots, which occurs in the polling station. But in this election, provincial election commissions have refused to allow observation by more than 3000 independent civil society observers, and there are complaints from opposition parties that some of their delegates (poll watchers) and nominated polling station staff are also being excluded. Renamo this afternoon issued a statement in Zambezia that party delegates have been refused credentials in six districts and in Mulevala credentials were taken back under the pretext of correcting an error, but not returned. This violates the law and the balance has shifted so there is no independent monitoring of the counting of votes in many key places.

The law does say every voter must leave after they vote, and cannot remain within 300 meters of the polling station. “Opposition parties are in consensus on this basic principle that people should vote and remain because the law does not prevent people from staying beyond 300 meters from the polling stations,” said Venâncio Mondlane, Renamo national representative, after signing an agreement between six parties to stop fraud.

The president of the National Election Commission (CNE), Sheik Abdul Carimo, in his usual exhortation, urged all voters to leave after voting. But he did not exhort provincial elections commissions to obey the law and issue observer credentials.

Police spokesperson Orlando Mudumbane at a press conference this morning said that “voters who have voted at the polling stations are prohibited from staying, and the police will intervene whenever necessary, using all legally established forms to prevent wrongdoing by anyone who might discredit the voting process.”

The CNE president signed a notification on Friday (11 October) addressed to the Renamo Secretary General, informing the largest opposition party that “voters are not allowed to stay at the polling stations.” Carimo specifically mentions Manuel de Araujo, Renamo candidate for governor of Zambezia. “The CNE has learned that the candidate and head of the list for the province of Zambezia, citizen Manuel Antonio Alculete Lopes de Araujo, recommends to voters and supporters of his candidacy and his party to stay near polling centres,” says the notification.

Both the opposition and the CNE and the police are right. No one shall remain within 300 meters of polling centres except duly accredited persons. But outside this perimeter, there is no legal prohibition. And the opposition is calling on people to stay outside the 300 meter perimeter.

The fear is that the police will use force to disperse people who are outside the 300 meters. In previous elections this generated riots, and police resorting to the use of tear gas to disperse people. In some cases, the police used the pretext of scattering people around polling stations to break into polling stations, take ballot boxes with ballot papers and disappear. In last year’s municipal elections this happened at some polling stations in Quelimane, Lichinga, and Marromneu.

In some countries like Ghana people are legally allowed to sit near polling stations and watch the count. In Mozambique, in the revision of the Electoral Law this proposal was put but rejected by parliament.

But without independent observers and party agents inside, who watches the count?

Gaza training to block observers

Polling station staff (MMVs) in Gaza Province were instructed during training to violate the electoral law to frustrate observation. The law specifies that during the count in the polling station, the number of ballot papers is recorded by tick marks on the classroom backboard or on a piece of paper. The is a key check in monitoring the counting process – first to note that the ticks are correctly noted and grouped in fives, and then that the total is the same as recorded several hours later on the results sheet (edital). Observers and party delegates use their phones to take pictures of the blackboard or note down the results. The CNE has made repeatedly clear that MMVs cannot have mobile phones, but the journalists, observers, and party poll watchers can have phones and use them for pictures.

Instead of this, the Gaza training is that the classroom blackboard is not to be used, that the secretary making notes on the notebook cannot show it or allow pictures to be taken, and that the polling station chair will simply announce the result. Furthermore, use of cameras and mobile phones by observers and journalists will be prohibited.

Violence stops some voting in Cabo Delgado

Ten polling stations are unlikely to open in Cabo Delgado tomorrow due to the violence and local people fleeing to safer areas, reports Sala da Paz. They have 5400 voters and these are predominantly opposition areas. There are 6 polling stations in Macomia, 3 in Mocimboa da Praia, and 1 in Muidumbe.

Stoned to death on last day of campaign

The campaign ended quietly across almost the entire country, but on Saturday (12 October) in Domwe, Angonia, Tete, a Frelimo sympathizer, 22, was stoned to death by Renamo opponents.

The caravans of the two parties met in the Chipundu area and were involved in skirmishes, our correspondents report. The two parties threw stones at each other, and the Frelimo supporter was mortally wounded. Police went to the scene and fired shots in the air to restore order.

36 dead in accidents and 9 murders

The number of deaths since the start of the election campaign has risen to 45. Police report nine cases resulting from traffic accidents, but the daily Bulletin records point to 38 deaths from accidents and 7 murders.

Two murders were reported in Dondo district, Sofala, in the first week of the election campaign. Julio Amisse of Renamo was assassinated at the administrative post of Mafambisse on 3 September. In the same week Carla Andre da Frelimo was stabbed to death by three unknown individuals at her residence in Mutua.

Mossurize, a circle secretary in the Paunde region who is a Frelimo supporter, was shot to death at his residence on 1 October. It was known by the name of Ndjovu. Local people accuse Renamo men of murder.

An individual whose name we did not find was murdered by gunmen in in the Pungwe region of Gorongosa, Sofala on October 3 when a Naggi bus was attacked by gunmen.

Renamo sympathizer Moses Muabsa was stabbed to death in Pambara, Vilankulo, Inhambane. on 7 October.

Anastacio Matavele, election observer and Executive Director of the Gaza Non-Governmental Organizations Forum (FONGA), was shot dead on 11 October by a police death squad in Xai-Xai, Gaza.

Benjamim Nicumpatimba and Rodrigues Chinambua, both Frelimo supporters, lost their lives on the 27 and 28 September, respectively, as a result of an assault on 9 September in the district of Milange. The attackers stormed the party cell and struck blows against Frelimo supporters at the scene. The two men did not recover from the attack and died on 27 and 28 September.

Police guarantee voting security 

“Enough staff are mobilized to ensure security and safety in this voting process. In some regions of Cabo Delgado, Defence and Security Force operating units have been deployed to ensure that people who have registered can vote,” Police spokesman Orlando Mudumane told reporters today

Police have been accused of favouring Frelimo in his interventions in the electoral process. Mudumane said the corporation will be neutral in its conduct. “The police will act to ensure equal treatment with absolute political neutrality and impartiality for the credibility and acceptability of voting results.”

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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