14 March 2014

Mozambique: Renamo Members "elected" to CNE

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday elected unanimously four people proposed by the parliamentary group of the former rebel movement Renamo to the National Elections Commission (CNE).

This was an election in name only, since it was impossible to propose other names. Deputies could vote for or against the resolution containing the names. In the event, they applauded and the Assembly chairperson, Veronica Macamo, declared that the names were accepted “by consensus”.

Last year, when they were only two seats for Renamo on the CNE, Renamo declined to fill them and boycotted everything to do with elections.

But in February, the ruling Frelimo Party accepted Renamo demands for sweeping changes in the electoral bodies, which included increasing the number of Renamo appointees on the CNE to four.

Among the four is the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga. He was also head of the Renamo group in the Maputo Municipal Assembly between 2008 and 2013. Like all other Renamo members of municipal assemblies, he lost his seat because of the Renamo boycott of last year's municipal elections.

The other three are: Latino Ligonha, a former Catholic priest, who was the unsuccessful Renamo candidate for mayor of the central town of Gurue in the 2008 local elections (and was briefly a member of the CNE in 2009); Celestino Xavier, who was chairperson of the municipal assembly in the northern port of Nacala from 2003 to 2008; and Meque Bras Dacambane, who was a member of the Renamo delegation appointed to enter into dialogue with the government in 2012.

The only debate was over the date on which the resolution appointing the four will take effect. The Assembly's Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission proposed that it take effect “on the date of its publication” (which means publication in the official gazette, the “Boletim da Republica”).

Well aware of the frequent delays in the appearance of the “Boletim da Republica”, Renamo deputy Jose Manteigas demanded that the resolution take effect “immediately”. The Commission's chairperson, Teodoro Waty, retorted that this would be illegal.

Macamo solved the problem by giving “my word of honour” that the resolution would be published that very day. Since it is only a few lines long, she thought it would not be difficult to ensure that the government printing houses issued it in the afternoon as a special number of the “Boletim da Republica”.

In its new format, the CNE consists of 17 members - five from Frelimo, four from Renamo, one from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), and seven from civil society organisations.

The Frelimo, MDM and three of the civil society members were appointed last year. Legally recognised civil society bodies should put forward names to fill the four remaining places. An Assembly ad-hoc commission then draws up a short list, which is put to the plenary for a secret ballot vote. The ad-hoc commission will be appointed next Wednesday.

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