18 July 2018

Mozambique: Commission Bars Public From Watching Vote Count

Photo: New Zimbabwe
(File photo).

1st Commission bars public from watching count

Finally, somewhat unexpectedly, the 1st Commission rejected a CM proposal to allow more public monitoring of counting of votes at polling stations. In Ghana and some other countries voters can watch the count at the polling station, and the CM proposed this for Mozambique - with the requirement that voters had to stay 300 metres away from the polling station - really too far to see or hear anything. But the 1st Commission rejected even this much public vigilance.

Observers, party delegates and media can sit inside the polling station and watch the count, but the public cannot and there is considerable mistrust. In 2013 municipal elections in Quelimane the main opposition MDM called on voters to monitor the count. Police intervened with substantial violence to disperse voters. The 1st Commission rejected the CM proposal to legalise and regularise such popular vigilance,.

Discord continues on key decentralisation issue

The key issue in the decentralisation debate is about how much money and power is passed down to municipalities and provinces, and how much is kept at central level - “tutela administrativa” in legal jargon. This is set out in the proposed revision of law 7/97. The 4th Commission of Parliament - Public Administration and Local Power (Administracao Publica e Poder Local) could not agree on how to respond to the Council of Ministers proposals, so this law will not be revised at tomorrow's special session. The issue is deferred until the next regular AR session scheduled for September. But the failure to agree suggests that substantial negotiation will be required before then, with Renamo pushing for reduced state power over municipalities and Frelimo for increasing central state power over municipalities.

4th commission also calls for changes

Two significant additions to resolve issues not dealt with by the Council Of Ministers (CM) proposal have been proposed by the 4th Commission of Parliament - Public Administration and Local Power (Administracao Publica e Poder Local):

+ Ban use of mobile phones and cameras to capture images in voting booths. This prohibition aims to prevent reported cases of public officials such as teachers who complained that they were obliged to send a photograph of the already marked ballot paper to a superior, such as the head of their school, as proof they had voted for Frelimo candidates.

+ Second round in case of a tie. The constitution and CM proposal do not say what should happen if the two top lists have exactly the same number of votes. The 4th Commission proposes that in the event of a tie, there should be a second round between two most voted lists. But this second round is only for the election of the mayor. It does not affect the municipal assembly lists already elected.

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