17 September 2018

Mozambique: Intimidation Could Make Election Unfair

Photo: Daily Trust
(File photo).

As the elections nears, there are reports of intimidation from senior Frelimo figures and from the opposition. The articles below give details, and we point out that intimidation can make the election unfair.

Frelimo elders denounce intimidation

Teodato Hunguana, former Information Minister and Constitutional Council judge, and Teodoro Waty, former MP and chair of a parliamentary commission, wrote to the Attorney General to denounce intimidation in the context of electoral debate. Both had published legal opinions defending Samito and AJUDEM.

"Both my interpretation text and the legal opinion of Prof. Dr. Teodoro Andrade Waty, are grossly, insidiously and malevolently attacked by Joao Juliao Cumbane as part of an alleged conspiracy. Having established this connection as a cause or pretext, this gentleman allowed himself to make threats to the physical integrity and death threats, to me and to the illustrious Professor, besides the main target: Samora Moises Machel Junior and his family," says Teodato Hunguana in his letter to Attorney General.

Hunguana adds that these written attacks “are attempts at character assassination which in our country have constituted acts in preparation of heinous murders" such as that of Gilles Cistac. He was a Franco-Mozambican lawyer, murdered in in front of a central Maputo cafe in March 2015.

Cumbane's attacks on Hunguana were made on Facebook. The Cistac murder was preceded by a campaign of abuse in social media, in which Cumbane played a significant role, writing posts that suggested Cistac was an imperialist agent.

Pre-election tension in Tete

In Angônia and Marara districts of Tete there is considerable pre-election tension between opposition party members on one side and Frelimo and local officials on the other. Opposition figures report intimidation and restrictions on opposition political activity, and government officials taking on party roles. "Tensao eleitoral na provincia de Tete" by Joao Feijo  is the first in our new series of Studies and Analysis and is available, only in Portuguese, on http://bit.ly/MocEEA1

Comment: “Free, fair and transparent"

The slogan of the CNE is that elections should be “Free, fair and transparent”. Transparency is about the openness of the CNE itself. Fairness means that all parties are treated equally by the state and by state-owned media. “Free” means that every citizen feels free to choose to vote or not, and to choose any candidate.

Political debate can be robust and we can call our opponents donkeys or fools, but we cannot threaten our opponents. Threats of physical violence, or of losing jobs or grants or licences, makes an election unfair. In recent times, opponents of the ruling party have been beaten and killed - which means even veiled threats from powerful people carry weight. In many areas, it is government and the ruling party that has the power to intimidate. But an unfortunate response in some areas has been intimidation from the opposition. This will be a hard fought election, made more angry by some candidates defecting from one party to another or to stand on independent citizens lists. But neither anger nor an intense desire to win justifies intimidation. We have correspondents in all 53 municipalities and they will be watching for intimidation and reporting it.  jh

CNE lists 5459 mesas

The full list of 5459 polling stations for the 10 October 2018 election was approved last week by the CNE, but has not yet been posted on the CNE website. Therefore we have posted it on the Mozambique elections website of the London School of Economics, and is available on http://bit.ly/Assem2018

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