Maputo — Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) has categorically denied claims that its chairperson, Joao Leopoldo da Costa, attended the Tenth Congress of the ruling Frelimo Party, held in the northern city of Pemba from 23 to 28 September.
Some of the Mozambican media had claimed that Costa not only attended the Congress, but was seen wearing Frelimo propaganda T-shirts and caps. These claims were echoed by deputies of the main opposition party, Renamo, in speeches in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in order to bolster their claims of the undemocratic and discriminatory nature of the current Mozambican electoral bodies.
But a Tuesday press release from the CNE denied that Costa had gone to the Congress. In fact, on the dates of the Congress, he was not even in Mozambique.
The release pointed out that Costa is chairperson of the Executive Commission of the Forum of SADC (Southern African Development Community) Election Commissions “and in that capacity, from 22 to 25 September, he was in the Botswanan capital, Gaborone, chairing a meeting of the Executive Commission and then took part in the General Assembly of the Forum”.
He then travelled to Pretoria, in South Africa, and attended a training workshop for new members of the region’s election commissions, held from 26 to 28 September. Here he gave a talk on the theme “Management of Elections: What Challenges?”
In other words, it was quite impossible for Costa to have attended the Frelimo Congress, and the claims that he was there, expressing his support for the ruling party and thus undermining the CNE’s independence and impartiality, were inventions.
“The tendentious statements made by some members of panels in debates held by some of the media cannot correspond to the truth”, the CNE said. Such claims “can have no other purpose but to disinform public opinion”.
The CNE “strongly condemns this attitude of bad faith,” continued the release. It called for respect “for norms of social and political conduct that are guided by seriousness and respect for citizens who have a constitutional right to their honour, good name and reputation”.