19 March 2018

Mozambique: Nyusi Registers As Voter

Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday urged all citizens of electoral age (18 years and older) who live in the country's 53 municipalities to register as voters so that they can cast their ballots in the nationwide municipal elections scheduled for 10 October.

Nyusi was speaking to reporters shortly after he had registered at a registration post set up in a Maputo secondary school.

“I want to appeal to all Mozambicans living in the municipalities to take part in this process”, he said. “Often we talk about democracy and inclusion, and forget that this inclusion can only be achieved through the right to vote. It's not difficult. Our fellow citizens on the National Elections Commission (CNE) are organised to support all of us”.

Nyusi urged citizens to register as soon as possible, although the registration period runs from 19 March to 17 May. “It's 60 days”, he said. “It may seem like a long time, but it isn't. There are a lot of us living in the cities, so the sooner we register the better”.

The CNE chairperson, Abdul Carimo, backed up the President's appeal. It was better to register early, he said, “to avoid those last minute constraints, when people go en masse to the registration posts, and the brigades don't have the capacity to respond”.

The registration is being held in all districts where there are municipalities. The CNE expects to register eight million voters. The voter registration will cost about 850 million meticais (13.7 million US dollars) and the CNE says this sum is guaranteed. The money must all come from the state budget, since no donor has offered to pay.

There are 2,377 registration brigades with 7,242 members, covering 3,234 registration posts. Registration will take place every day from 8.00 to 16.00.

This registration arises from a peculiarity in the Mozambican electoral law which states that voter registration is only valid for one “electoral cycle”. That means that the voter cards issued now will be valid for this year's municipal elections, for next year's presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections, and for any municipal by-elections that may occur in the next five years. They will not be valid for the next set of municipal and general elections in 2023/2024.

All previous voter cards (including those used last week in the second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula) are now invalid. For Mozambicans who voted in the first multi-party elections in 1994, this will be the sixth time that they have registered as voters.

Before a single voter had registered, the main opposition party, the rebel movement Renamo, was claiming that the ruling Frelimo Party was practicing fraud. According to a report on the independent television station STV, Renamo in the town of Mocuba, in the central province of Zambezia, accused Frelimo of moving people from outside the municipality to register in Mocuba, so that they can vote in October.

The accusation that Frelimo moves people from other parts of the country (or even from abroad) in order to vote fraudulently has been made repeatedly by Renamo, which has never presented any evidence for such claims.

The most recent example came on the eve of the second round of the Nampula by-election last Wednesday, when Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama claimed that Frelimo was bussing fake voters into Nampula from all over the country, including from Niassa in the far north and Maputo in the far south. He even threatened to cut off his talks with Nyusi because of this alleged fraud.

But since the Renamo candidate, Paulo Vahanle, won the by-election, nothing further has been heard of Dhlakama's claims.

The Renamo district delegate in Mocuba, Angelo Macuva, said Renamo will not tolerate people from outside the municipality registering on Frelimo's instructions. “We are attentive, we shall mobilise our members to control the situation and unmask Frelimo”, he said.

He claimed specifically the Frelimo is mobilising nurses and teachers from outside Mocuba to register in the town.

The Frelimo Mocuba first secretary, Novais Paulo, demanded that Renamo present some evidence for its claims.

“The accusations of Renamo are untrue”, he said. “We demand proof. We have no interest in doing what Renamo accuses us of wanting to do. Right now, we are committed to mobilising our comrades at the grass roots, to go en masse to register, so that our party wins this year's municipal elections”.

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