Venancio Mondlane & Samora Machel Jr challenged; CNE meeting today, but final decision only in September
The candidacy of Venancio Mondlane as head of the Renamo list and the entire list of Samora Machel Jr's AJUDEM, both in Maputo, are being re-considered this afternoon (Sunday 19 August) by the CNE, following challenges. But appeals to the Constitutional Council are likely, meaning no clarity until September on the key Maputo election.
The CNE meeting began Saturday and adjourned without agreement, and was scheduled to resume at 15.00 today, Sunday 19 August.
MDM alleges that Mondlane's candidacy is invalid because he stood down from the municipal assembly in 2015 when he was elected to parliament. And four candidates for Samora Machel Jr's AJUDEM list claim they were included in the list against the will, and that their signatures were forged. A list must have as many candidates as there are seats in the assembly plus at least three alternates - for Maputo 67 (64 + 3). It is now too late to submit new candidates. AJUDEM's list has 68, so if the four are removed, the list falls and AJUDEM (and Samora Jr) cannot stand.
Appeals could take 3 weeks
There are two levels of appeals. The loser of the Mondlane protest first appeals again to the CNE. Similarly, if AJUDEM is rejected, the first appeal is to the CNE. In both cases, the second CNE decision can be appealed to the Constitutional Council (CC). Appellants have 3 calendar days (including weekends) to appeal, the CNE has 3 days to rule, then there are 3 days to appeal to the CC. The appeal to the CC is filed with the CNE, which then has 5 days to respond. After that, the CC then has 5 days to rule. This means it could take 3 weeks, or into the second week of September, to resolve these issues. The electoral campaign begins 15 days before voting, on 25 September.
MDM challenge to Venâncio Mondlane
The electoral law says that a candidate cannot have resigned from the municipal assembly in the previous mandate. Both Venâncio Mondlane, head of the Renamo list in Maputo, and Silverio Ronguane, head of the MDM list in Matola, stood down from municipal assemblies after they were elected members of the national parliament for MDM in 2014.
Last week the CNE said they could not take official cognisance of the case, and they could only act if there was a protest. So when the lists were published Friday, MDM officially protested against Mondlane (even though a ruling in its favour would also affect Ronguane, its own candidate). In the CNE meeting yesterday, Renamo members defended Mondlane, and the decision was deferred to the meeting this afternoon. A decision will be known Monday, 20 Aug. The decision rests on an arcane issue, as to whether the new electoral law can be applied to a 2015 resignation.
Samora Machel Jr list at risk
After the AJUDEM list was published Friday, four members alleged that they had not agreed to be included and had not signed the key documents. In effect they are alleging forgery of their signatures and falsification of documents, which is an electoral crime punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison. But such a crime must be prosecuted by the Attorney General, not the CNE.
The electoral law does not mention this issue of falsified documents, which leaves the CNE in a conundrum. It has the task of assessing the validity of the five documents each candidate must submit, but how does it respond to a claim of falsification - which is a criminal offense outside the normal ambit of the CNE.
So the CNE could accept the letters as declining to stand, and reject the AJUDEM list. Of they could reject the letters, either as claiming a criminal offense that the CNE cannot rule on, or on the grounds that the letters do not meet the rules for candidates desisting. In which case, the list would stand and go forward.
Long ballot papers in Maputo, Matola, Nampula as municipal elections attract interest
Elections of municipal assemblies (and therefore mayors) on 10 October has attracted significant interest from smaller parties, coalitions and citizens llsts. Only the three parties with national parliamentary seats, Frelimo, Renamo and MDM, are standing in all 53 municipalities. But in 15 municipalities there will be others. A total of 13 parties and groups will compete in Maputo city, 8 in Matola, and 7 in Nampula city. A new party AMUSI, which appeared for the first time in the Nampula mayoral by-election in January, is standing in all 7 municipalities in Nampula province.
Final lists still subject to challenge were announced by the National Elections Commission on Friday. Citizens lists are allowed to register locally, and two lists were accepted Monday but only informed to the CNE later last week. They are Cidadaos Eleitores Apartidarios de Nacala (Non-party voters of Nacala, CEAN) standing in Nacala, and Associacao Mocambicana de Amor a Justica, Paz e Solidariedade (Mozambican Association for Love, Justice, Peace and Solidaraity, AMAJPS) standing in Nampula city.
Two small parties that the CNE announced on Tuesday 14 August as having submitted lists had their lists rejected, and will not stand. The are Partido Movimento Alternativo de Mocambique (PANAMO) and Movimento Nacional para Recuperacao da Unidade Mocambicana (MONARUMO). There has been no explanation by the CNE.
In 2013, Renamo did not stand, and across the 53 municipalities, Frelimo and MDM won all but 9 seats. PAHUMO won 1 seat in Nampula city and is standing again there. In Angoche in 2013 ASSEMONA came second with 24% of the vote and won 7 seats, showing that a citizens list can have an impact; it not standing again, but some of its activists seem to have moved in AMUSI which is standing in all seven Nampula municipalities. In the 24 January Nampula by-election both PAHUMO and AMUSI had candidates; AMUSI gained 4.3% of the votes and PAHUMO only 0.8%. A citizens list which won a single seat in Chiure, Cabo Delgado, is not standing again. In 2013 there were 12 lists standing in Maputo city, 9 in Matola, 5 in Nampula, similar to this year. And that could have an impact in a close race - in Maputo in 2013 the 10 small parties and citizens lists won 3.05% of the vote.