4 April 2014

Mozambique: Assembly Elects Civil Society Members of CNE

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday selected four citizens from names proposed by civil society organizations to join the National Elections Commission (CNE), thus bringing it up to its full complement of 17.

But in reality the result had been cooked up beforehand by the leaderships of the three parliamentary groups (from the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM). They informally decided that Renamo would choose two of the civil society nominees, and Frelimo and the MDM one each.

This, a Frelimo deputy told AIM, was “in the spirit of the dialogue between Renamo and the government”. The imbalance is because Renamo argues that the three other civil society members chosen last year were approved exclusively by Frelimo (indeed, on a free vote in the Assembly, people supported by Frelimo will always win overwhelmingly, since Frelimo holds 191 of the 250 parliamentary seats).

The deal between the parliamentary groups meant that the deputies were faced with a recommended list of four names and asked to vote for it.

Frelimo deputies were thus told to vote for three people supported by the opposition as well as their own man.

The recommended list won easily. Over half of the 180 deputies present for the secret ballot vote cast their votes for all four names, who were thus easily elected to the CNE.

The results were:

1. Jeremias Timana, general secretary of the National Confederation of Free and Independent Unions (CONSILMO), which proposed him. Timana already has experience of the CNE: he sat on the CNE which organized the 2008 municipal and 2009 general elections. Supported by Frelimo, he won 175 votes (95.2 per cent of the deputies present).

2. Jose Belmiro, a prominent journalist working for the independent television station, STV. He was proposed by the Martin Luther King Institute, and supported by the MDM. 100 deputies voted for him (55.5 per cent).

3. Apolinario Joao, proposed by the Youth Association for Community and Development. Both Joao and the Youth Association were previously unknown, and he owes his place on the CNE to support from Renamo. He won 99 votes (55 per cent).

4. Salomao Moyana, one of the country's best known journalists. In the 1980s he worked at AIM, and he later edited the weekly papers “Savana” and “Zambeze”. He is now the director of the weekly “Magazine Independent”. This was Moyana's fourth attempt to become a CNE member. This time he was proposed by another previously unheard-of body, the Inter-Religious Alliance for Advocacy and Social Development, and was supported by Renamo. 96 deputies (53.3 per cent) voted for him.

The disparity between the votes for Timana and for the other three names on the recommended list is striking. There were around 70 ballot papers containing votes for Timana and for nobody else. These were clearly ballots cast by Frelimo deputies who could not stomach the thought of voting for people effectively nominated by Renamo. This was a silent revolt against the string of concessions which Frelimo and the government have been making to Renamo since the beginning of the year.

There were a further eight names on the ballot paper, but since they were not on the list recommended by the Frelimo, Renamo and MDM leaderships, they stood no chance and their votes were derisory. The eight were as follows:

1. Delfim de Deus Junior, proposed by the Mozambican Bar Association. 12 votes (6.1 per cent)

2. Guilherme Mabilana (Human Rights and Legality Observatory), 4 votes (2.2 per cent).

3. Cesar Guitunga (Foundation for Citizenship), 4 votes (2.2 per cent).

4. Maria Chuma (Urban Development Association), 4 votes (2.2 per cent).

5. Boaventura Zita (Human Rights and Legality Observatory), 3 votes (1.6 per cent).

6. Ricardo Morresse (Forum of Mozambican Associations for the Disabled), 3 votes (1.6 per cent).

7. Oscar Siduna (Youth Association for Community and Development), 2 votes (1.1 per cent).

8. Guimaraes Lucas Junior (Association for National Community Development), 1 vote (0.5 per cent).

In addition there was one invalid ballot (from a deputy who tried to vote for six names), and one deputy did not vote at all.

Although Renamo has insisted on changing the composition of the CNE, so that it contains citizens nominated or supported by Renamo, for this vote the majority of the Renamo parliamentary group was not present. Only 21 of the 51 Renamo deputies were in the chamber (compared with seven of the eight MDM deputies, and 152 of the 191 Frelimo deputies).

Timana, Belmiro, Joao and Moyana will join the CNE when they are sworn into office by President Armando Guebuza.

Pf/ (785)

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