23 December 2013

Mozambique: Frelimo Wins 50 Cities but MDM Makes Its Mark

Frelimo maintained its dominance in the 20 November 2013 elections, winning the post of mayor and a majority in the municipal assembly in 50 of 53 municipalities. But the opposition MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement) made its mark, winning three important cities - Nampula, Quelimane and Beira - and winning 30% of assembly seats nationally.

In Maputo and Matola, MDM won 40% and 42% of the vote, compared to Renamo's 14% and 9% in 2008. Turnout was 46%, the same as 2008, but above the 28% of 2003.

Serious questions have been raised about two cities, Marromeu and Gurué. In a protest to the Constitutional Council, MDM has challenged the result in Gurué where its own copies of the polling station results sheets (editais) show it with a majority. An observer parallel count also showed an MDM victory.

In Marromeu the Frelimo candidate for Mayor beat the MDM candidate by just 283 votes, however, there was a very high 1,119 invalid votes (nulos), equivalent to 10.9% of the total vote. This raises questions about whether votes were intentionally invalidated, typically by adding a second mark to ballot papers for the opposition candidate.

In Marromeu in the previous election in 2008, there were 4.9% invalid votes for mayor, compared to 10.9% this time. An extra 6% of total votes is more than 500 votes. If these are actually ballots for the MDM candidate for mayor which were improperly invalidated by polling station staff, they would be enough to give victory of MDM.

These elections saw a much heavier police presence than in the past, and there were arbitrary arrests of opposition polling station delegates on voting day and party representatives during the campaign. There were confrontations with the police in Beira on the final day of the campaign and on polling day in Mocuba and Quelimane, where at least three people were killed.

Renamo, the largest opposition party, boycotted the elections. This had some impact, particularly in Nacala Porto and other coastal Nampula cities.

Renamo called on its members not to register or vote.

In Nacala Renamo won 48% of the vote in 2008 but MDM won only 11% this year; in Ilha de Moçambique Renamo had won 34% while MDM won only 14%. But in other places, the boycott had little effect and former Renamo voters backed the MDM.

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