17 September 2018

Mozambique: Court Battles Over 3 Defectors - Mondlane, Araujo, Samito

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With just three weeks to go before elections, the position of two prominent candidates for mayor are still being debated by the courts, and a third was rejected. All three defected from their parties to stand for others, and all three have had their candidacy rejected. But two are appealing.

AJUDEM, the Maputo citizens list headed by Frelimo defector Samora Machel Jr ("Samito"), on 14 September lost its appeal to the Constitutional Council (CC) against the CNE decision that it did not have enough candidates on its list, after several withdrew. But something odd happened, when the appeal to the CC was changed at the last minute to a weaker version. But CC the ruling stands.

On a legal technicality, Renamo has been able to appeal again to the Constitutional Council against the National Elections Commission decision to bar Venancio Mondlane as head of list (and thus candidate for mayor) in Maputo.

Manuel de Araujo is appealing today to the Administrative Tribunal against the ruling by the Council of Ministers that he lost his post as mayor of Quelimane because he changed parties, from MDM to Renamo, and thus cannot stand again for mayor.

More details of all 3 cases are given below.

Frelimo accused of intimidation

Two senior Frelimo figures have accused their own party of intimidation and threats because they gave legal opinions supporting AJUDEM and Samito in his Constitutional Council appeal. And there are reports of intimidation both from a study of Tete, and from reports of the pre-campaign period. More details below.

Campaign starts,but with problems

Throughout the 53 municipalities, campaigning has already begun with parties presenting their heads of lists, who are candidates for mayor.

The official campaign starts on 25 September, and that reduces restrictions on parties. But campaigning can start at any time if parties obey the normal rules, in particular announcing marches in advance.

In Maputo Renamo is demanding that the campaign period rules be applied early, and complaining that police stopped unannounced marches to introduce Mondlane as head of list.

In most places the introduction of heads of lists went smoothly with marches and speeches, but our correspondents report three irregularities:
Gondola: In Gondola on 14 September Frelimo ordered schools closed so that teachers could attend a meeting of the district  administration and the district education director, Arlino Ngozo, who is head of the Frelimo list and who appealed for the vote of the teachers.
Chimoio: In 7 April neighbourhood on 13 September, the neighbourhood leader Florindo Mavura demanded that MDM have permission to present  their  head  of  list,  Alberto  Nota.  No such permission is required.
Nampula: On 16 September, Frelimo supporters interrupted President Filipe Nyusi's inauguration of a medicines warehouse in Nakitiri and turned it into a Frelimo campaign rally.

Court battles continue over 3 defectors

Two prominent candidates for mayor who defected from their parties to stand for others are appealing against decisions that they cannot stand for mayor in this election. And the citizens list AJUDEM had been told by the Constitutional Council it cannot stand.

Renamo appeals again on Mondlane

Renamo has submitted a second appeal against the exclusion of Venancio Mondlane as head of list in Maputo. Renamo had asked the Constitutional Council (CC) to declare the electoral law unconstitutional, and the CC said Renamo did not have the standing to do that. This is considered a rejection on a preliminary point, and in such a case a revised appeal can be submitted.

So Renamo has done what it should have done in the first place, and argued that Mondane should not have been disqualified. The law says that a person cannot be a candidate for a post that they resigned from in the previous term. Mondlane was elected to the Maputo municipal assembly in 2013 and then to the national parliament in 2014, which did not allow him to remain in the municipal assembly. The appeal argues he did not "resign" but was forced by the parliamentary law to step down.

AJUDEM rejected

The CC on 14 September rejected the appeal of AJUDEM (Youth Association for Mozambique Development) which had Samora Machel Jr ("Samito") as head of list. The law requires that a list have as many members as assembly seats (64 for Maputo) plus at least 3 alternates. After the deadline to replace list members, several resigned and the list was too short. AJUDEM argued that it should still have been able to replace those leaving, but the CC disagreed.

AJUDEM appeal changed

In a still unexplained switch, the appeal drawn up by Samito's lawyer and reported here last week, was not submitted to the CC, and instead a shorter and weaker appeal was submitted. It did not raise the constitutional question, and only challenged one of two CNE decisions.

Manuel de Araujo appealing today

The Council of Ministers on 29 August ruled that Manuel de Araujo had lost his post as mayor of Quelimane because he changed parties, from MDM to Renamo. Under the current law, a mayor cannot change parties and if he is dismissed, cannot stand again to be mayor in the next election. He will today (17 September) appeal to the Administrative Tribunal that the decision was invalid.

The law (7/97) gives 20 days to appeal to the TA and says that he remains mayor until the TA rules. That means he remains head of the Renamo list and if the TA does not rule before 10 October he will remain head of the list and could be re-elected mayor.

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