Mozambique: Renamo Proposals Go Beyond Agreement With Government

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Election posters in the Sofala province town of Gorongosa.

Maputo — The proposals made by the former rebel movement Renamo to change the composition of the Mozambican electoral bodies go beyond what was announced after last week's meetings between government and Renamo delegations.

The Renamo amendments, now in AIM's possession, seek not only to add members to the National Elections Commission (CNE), but would institute the new posts of two CNE deputy chairpersons, and set up a three member CNE board - an innovation not mentioned during Renamo's dialogue with the government.

The current CNE, established under the law passed in December 2012, consists of eight political party representatives - five appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party, two by Renamo and one by the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). In addition there are three members from civil society, a judge appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistrature and an attorney appointed by the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Because Renamo lost the vote on this law, it boycotted the CNE, refusing to appoint its two members, and then went on to boycott the November municipal elections, thus ensuring that it lost all its seats in the municipal assemblies.

But at the same time Renamo decided that it could win by force what it had lost in a democratic vote, and embarked on a campaign of terror in the central province of Sofala, mounting ambushes on the main north-south highway and launching other attacks against civilian and military targets.

The Renamo amendments, proposed in the shadow of murder and destruction, will, if passed, increase the size of the CNE to 17 - there will still be five Frelimo nominees, and one from the MDM, but Renamo will now appoint four members. The other seven will come from civil society.

The process for appointing the civil society members is exactly the same as last year. Legally recognised civil society organisations submit names to the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, within 30 days of an announcement published by the Assembly.

A short list of between 12 and 16 candidates is then drawn up and submitted to the Assembly plenary, which then elects the seven CNE members.

But there are already three civil society members on the CNE, including the CNE chairperson, moslem cleric Sheik Abdul Carimo.

Will they remain in office, to be joined by another four, or must there be a new selection process for all seven civil society members? The Renamo amendments do not make this clear. A new selection, even if only for four people, will take several weeks.

What is clear is that there is no room in Renamo's vision of the CNE for any legal professionals. So the judge and attorney are to be removed from the CNE, thus depriving it of much needed legal expertise.

Completely new is the creation of two deputy CNE chairpersons, on from Frelimo and one from Renamo. The chairperson and his two deputies will form a CNE Board, which will draw up the agenda for CNE meetings and "coordinate and direct" CNE activities.

Renamo shrinks the size of the provincial and district elections commissions from 11 to nine, and makes them even more dominated by political parties.

Under the existing law each of these commissions consists of three representatives of Frelimo, two of Renamo, one from the MDM and five civil society appointees. Renamo leaves the political party representation untouched, but reduces the civil society members from five to three.

But all these commissions already exist. They were appointed in mid-2013. Renamo does not make it clear how these commissions are each to expel two of their members.

Easily the worst aspect of the amendments is the total politicisation of the CNE's executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).

Renamo seeks to stuff political appointees into STAE at all levels, which runs the risk of transforming it into a political battleground.

The professional civil servants who currently run STAE will remain in office - but they will have political appointees from all three parties looking over their shoulders.

AT STAE headquarters, the general director will have two deputies, one from Frelimo and one from Renamo, with whom he is obliged to consult before reporting to the CNE.

Under the STAE general director are the directorates of organisation, training, and administration and finance. These will, in the Renamo schema., have six deputy directors, three from Frelimo, two from Renamo and one from the MDM. There will be a further 18 political staff at STAE headquarters - nine from Frelimo, eight from Renamo and one from the MDM.

There is a similar structure in the provincial, district and city branches of STAE.

There will be a STAE director, two deputies, heads of department and six deputy heads of department in each province, each district and each city - three deputy heads of department from Frelimo, two from Renamo and one from the MDM.

On top of that there will be another six political staff in each provincial, district and city STAE - again three from Frelimo, two from Renamo and one from the MDM.

This adds up to 909 political appointees in STAE. Nobody has yet calculated how much they will all be paid - even though any law or amendment passed by the Assembly must state how much it will cost the national budget.

The purpose of these amendments is clearly to give Renamo considerable power of patronage, so that it can slip its unemployed members into STAE, or into the provincial and district elections commissions. Neither Frelimo nor the MDM asked for or needs these jobs for the boys.

Renamo, and much of the Mozambican press, seems to believe that, when the Assembly considers these proposals on Friday, it will simply rubber stamp them. But there is nothing to prevent the Frelimo majority from demanding changes - or indeed from throwing the whole corrupt package out.

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