17 April 2018

Mozambique: Voter Registration in Danger of Missing Target

Maputo — Half way through Mozambique's two month voter registration, ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for 10 October, less than 40 per cent of the estimated municipal electorate has registered.

Claudio Langa, the spokesperson for the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), told a Maputo press conference on Tuesday that so far slightly more than three million voters have registered.

The registration is taking place in all districts where there are municipalities, and the target figure, based on population figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE), is 8.064 million. Currently the STAE registration brigades have only reached 38.6 per cent of that target.

Registration began on 19 March and is due to end on 17 May. Unless there is a much better turnout of potential voters at the registration posts in the next four weeks, the target will be missed.

A couple of provinces have passed the half way mark. The best performance is from the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which has reached 55.13 per cent of the target. Also doing reasonably well are the southern provinces of Inhambane and Gaza, hitting 51.22 and 47.16 per cent of their targets respectively.

But Langa expressed serious concern about the northernmost province of Niassa, where only 27.63 per cent of the potential electorate has registered.

Langa said that among the difficulties faced by the registration brigades, and by the STAE technical assistance brigades, which should be on hand to repair any malfunctioning machines, were heavy rains in some districts over the past week. The bad weather also affected the solar panels on which some of the registration brigades depend.

A further problem was that political parties are not placing the monitors to which they are entitled at all the registration posts.

“We would like to appeal to the political parties to exercise their rights”, said Langa. The presence of the political parties is supposed to provide assurances that everything is being done in accordance with the electoral law and that nothing fraudulent occurs.

The two main opposition parties, the rebel movement Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), have claimed that voters who have no right to vote in the municipal elections are being bussed in from other parts of the country. There is no way this inherently unlikely claim can be proved if Renamo and MDM monitors are not present at all the registration posts.

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