Maputo — Anyone caught trying to commit fraud in the 20 November municipal elections will be severely punished, warned the chairperson of Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, on Thursday.
Speaking at a press briefing, he noted that the penalties for electoral offences committed by polling station staff have been increased in the electoral laws passed last December.
When AIM queried the usefulness of this, given that blatant frauds committed by staff in some polling stations in the 2009 general elections went unpunished, Carimo insisted that this time it would be different.
He promised that the CNE would push for “exemplary punishment” for any fraudulent behaviour. “We will be very attentive to any attempt at fraud”, he said, “and we will hold each of those involved responsible for their acts”.
He admitted that in the past here had been problems with phoney polling station results sheets (this happened particularly in Tete province), and with some dishonest staff invalidating votes by adding an ink mark to ballot papers to make it look as if the citizens concerned had tried to vote for more than one candidate.
Carimo said that warnings against fraud are being given at all the training sessions for election staff. “We don't want polling station staff to besmirch these elections”, he insisted.
Right now, he revealed, the CNE was chasing cases of people who tried to register more than once during the May-July voter registration period. Checks are now possible because each voter must give his or her fingerprints, and all the data is computerized.
Using the fingerprint check, the CNE had, for example, discovered that one person registered four times at the same polling station. The authorities are looking for him, Carimo said.
Multiple registrations are a foolish type of fraud, since the use of indelible ink to mark voters' fingers makes it virtually impossible for the same person to vote more than once.
Carimo said codes of conduct have been drawn up for polling station staff, for political parties, for the police, and for the monitors watching the voting on behalf of candidates and parties.
There has never been such a code for the police before. Carimo said that in previous elections “we have noted that the police have a poor grasp of the electoral laws”. The CNE had been discussing the matter with the General Command of the police, and he hoped that the information on what the police may and may not do “will get down to the provinces and the municipalities”.