Maputo — Voter registration ahead of the general elections scheduled for 15 October began throughout Mozambique on Saturday, despite the request by the former rebel movement Renamo for a further ten day postponement.
There was only a trickle of would-be voters on the first day at Maputo City registration posts. Speaking to reporters at the registration post in the Josina Machel secondary school in central Maputo, the chairperson of the City Elections Commission, Victor Miguel, said the poor turnout was largely because most of the Maputo electorate registered last year.
The 2013 registration was only for the country's 53 municipalities, which elected mayors and municipal assemblies on 20 November. Now the registration brigades in municipalities are just updating those voters' rolls. But in the rest of the country, the registration is from scratch, aimed at everyone aged 18 and above.
Asked whether the delay in starting the registration had affected turnout, Miguel said “It's difficult to make that assessment, but we don't think the alteration would have a great impact, since it was only a delay of 15 days”.
The registration was originally scheduled to begin on 30 January, but the government accepted the first Renamo request for a postponement of a fortnight. But when Renamo made a second request on Thursday, less than 48 hours before the registration was due to begin, the government did not make any further concession.
“The important thing now”, said Miguel, “is the work that the civic education brigades do to mobilize all those who have not yet registered”.
He added that all citizens have a role to play in this, at home and in their workplaces, persuading those who have not yet registered to make their way to the voter registration posts.
Asked about the Renamo call for a further ten day postponement, Miguel said that had nothing to do with the City Elections Commission. The matter was not within the commission's jurisdiction, “since we only supervise what has already been decided, and the process has begun”.
There are 180 registration posts in the capital, staffed by 540 registration brigade members.