5 December 2013

Mozambique: Nampula - Probable Causes of Siueia's Defeat

How was the MDM victory in Nampula made possible without the mobilization of young people to "supervise" the vote at polling stations? Moreover, how was it possible to achieve a victory without a drop of bloodshed and without the Rapid Intervention Forces (FIR) staining the process? The issues that can be raised about the process are varied and lead to even more questions. What role, for example, did abstention play in the victory of the MDM candidate? To what extent does the issue of tribalism have an influence in abstention of voting and in choosing a candidate of an opposition party? If it is true that the tribal issue requires further analysis and even a certain degree of prudence to interpret the results, it is equally certain that behind-the-scenes work took place in order to prevent an "outsider" from occupying the seat left vacant by Namuaca. A message that went viral in Nampula city is a prime example: "we can't let the municipality go to someone we don't know and who doesn't belong here."

Another message that was shared by the community members served to remind others that Siueia damaged everything he touched and had reputation of being a bad administrator. He was accused and found as being the one responsible for the bankruptcy of Texmoc and as Malema's administrator he was a protagonist of mismanagement. As Councilor for markets and fairs, his relationship with the city council was disastrous. Siueia was the face of a highly unpopular measure, namely the expulsion of informal vendors from city streets. However, it wasn't only this factor that made the defeat of Absalão Siueia a reality. Informal vendors didn't do business on December 1, but they also didn't go to vote. There are, however, those who comment that the defeat of Frelimo was not by a larger margin only because of the absence of a significant part of the electorate who are extremely important to ensuring landslide victories.

The support provided by the political leadership of Beira and Quelimane was pivotal. If, on the one hand, the supporters of Daviz Simango (with several elections already behind him) and Manuel de Araújo (with two elections in less than three years) were instrumental in collecting the preliminary vote counts and in avoiding any move intended to replace these result sheets, ergo deceiving the will of the voters expressed at the polls. On the other hand, Amurane did not have the logistics capacity to ensure supervision and, at the same time, collect the preliminary vote counts during the moment of truth.

It is important to make a special mention of the law and order agents, whose apathy assisted by the unpopularity of Siueia (an outsider in the local context and a candidate imposed against the wishes of the locals) did not allow the possibility of a miraculous "turnaround" the following morning. It is important to remember that there are suspicions that the ease with which the polling station delegates were left amazed by the ballots either aimed to ensure a fair fight at the polls or to discredit entirely a result that would announce a candidate that the locals did not want as the winner. The role of the observers was essential, something that wouldn't have happened on November 20.

A question hangs in the air: is it possible to win elections without the support of young people or is the case of Nampula extraordinary because of the internal divisions in the party itself? I think it's possible for victory to come without the youth's vote and Nampula proved this. There were no shots fired because the absence of young people did not give necessary reason for the FIR agents to pull the trigger. The absence of citizens nearby voting locales, coupled with the retribution vote of the residents, the strong presence of observers and a solid MDM structure offered, on a platter, a municipality that Frelimo did not want to lose. - Translated By Lauren Fox

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