Maputo — All the staff required to staff thousands of polling stations in Mozambique's municipal elections, scheduled for 20 November, have now been recruited, the spokesperson for the National Elections Commission (CNE), Joao Beirao, told a press briefing on Friday.
The period for recruiting the staff had to be extended because of the difficulty in some municipalities in acquiring the necessary documents, notably criminal record certificates.
Currently the training of people who will then go on to train the polling station staff is under way, Beirao added.
Some of the staff are the same people who were in the brigades that registered voters in the municipalities between May and July.
Asked if the CNE would exclude people who may have committed electoral offences at polling stations in the 2009 general elections, Beirao said this was not possible, since the CNE was not responsible for pressing criminal charges.
The question referred to those dishonest polling station staff who deliberately invalidated ballot papers by adding an ink mark to make it look as if the voters concerned had tried to vote for more than one candidate. It is easy to check at which polling stations this misconduct happened - they are the ones that recorded an abnormally high number of invalid votes.
But Beirao said all the CNE could do at the time was to inform the Public Prosecutor's Office of the problem. It was up to the public prosecutor, and not the CNE, to press charges. But prosecutors took no action, and nobody was ever charged for tampering with votes in 2009.
Beirao said that lots have now been drawn for positions on the ballot papers.
The top two positions on ballot papers are occupied by the only two parties that are standing in all 53 municipalities. The ruling Frelimo party drew the first position, and the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) is in the number two slot.
Beirao said the ballot papers are now being printed in South Africa, and a team from the CNE and its executive body, STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat), is on hand to check the printing.
The competing parties and citizens' groups have also drawn lots for positions in the time allocated for political broadcasts on the public radio and television stations. The broadcasts will be transmitted during the official election campaign which runs from 5 to 17 November.
The list of polling stations was published on Saturday in the daily paper “Noticias”. Beirao said that, wherever possible, the polling stations are in the same places as the voter registration posts. A full list of candidates, both for mayors and for members of the municipal assemblies, was also published in “Noticias” on Thursday.
Accreditation of observers and journalists is now under way. Beirao said that, to date, 86 foreign observers (59 from the European Union, and 27 from the United States) have been accredited, and 77 journalists.