Maputo — The Mozambican government has announced that the municipal elections scheduled for this year will be held on 20 November.
Announcing the decision on Tuesday, at the end of a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), Fisheries Minister Victor Borges, added that voter registration will take place in all 43 municipalities from 25 May to 23 July.
This will be a completely new registration and the existing voter registers and cards will cease to be valid. Everyone who wishes to vote will have to register again, regardless of whether they were registered for the 2008 municipal elections or the 2009 general elections.
In the 20 November elections, the voters in each municipality will elect a mayor and a municipal assembly.
The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, says it has already begun preparing for the municipal elections.
The state budget for this year allocates 850 million meticais (about 28.3 million US dollars) for the local elections. According to STAE General Director Felisberto Naife, this will be enough to cover voter registration, the training of electoral staff, the production of the ballot papers and other electoral materials, and everything else required for successful elections.
The main snag is that the body that supervises the elections, the National Elections Commission (CNE), has not yet been formed. Under new electoral legislation passed by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in December, the CNE consists of eight political party appointees, a judge, an attorney and three appointees from civil society organisations.
The political party appointees will be chosen by the three parliamentary groups – five from the ruling Frelimo Party, two from the former rebel movement Renamo and one from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). They will only be chosen at the next sitting of the Assembly, due to begin in mid-March.
As for the members from civil society, the law states that civil society bodies may propose candidates for the CNE to an ad-hoc commission set up by the Assembly. From the names proposed, the ad-hoc commission will draw up a short list of between 12 and 16 names that will be submitted to the Assembly plenary.
A secret ballot vote in the plenary will choose the three CNE members, while the three runners-up become supplementary members who will take over if any of the full members dies, resigns or is incapacitated.
The judge will be appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistracy, and the attorney by the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Renamo is threatening to boycott the elections, just as it boycotted the mayoral by-elections held in December 2011 in Quelimane, Pemba and Cuamba, and in April 2012 in Inhambane.
If Renamo implements this threat, the elections will become a two horse race between Frelimo and the MDM. Currently, there are two MDM mayors, in Beira and Quelimane, while Frelimo controls the other 41 municipalities.