Maputo — The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) is this week completing the training of 43,300 candidates for polling station staff for Mozambique's municipal elections scheduled for 10 October.
STAE general director Felisberto Naife told a Maputo press conference on Monday that there will be 5,459 polling stations in the 53 municipalities. Each polling station is manned by seven members of staff (MMVs).
Of these four are hired by STAE through public tendering, and the other three are appointed by the political parties represented in parliament - the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
STAE will hire 21,836 of the candidates. As for the MMVs from the political parties, it is feared that they will not have enough people to man each polling station. This was the case in the 2014 general elections, the first time that the parties were allowed to appoint MMVs, under amendments to the electoral legislation passed earlier that year.
Naife said that the three parties had been alerted in late May about the number of MMVs they would need to recruit. STAE suggested they should recruit an extra ten per cent, so that they could cope with people dropping out. Naife was optimistic that the parties would rise to the occasion better this time than in 2014.
The ballot papers and all the other election material are being produced in South Africa. Naife said the materials are now entering Mozambique, and by next Saturday they would be in the provincial capitals. From there they will be taken to the municipalities in time for the voting on 10 October.
The voter rolls for all the polling stations have been produced, and copies given to all the competing political parties, as required by law. Naife said there will also be a platform on the STAE website through which voters can identify their polling stations.
He dismissed claims of tampering with the ballot papers so that votes for opposition parties would somehow disappear. This claim was first made by Renamo election agent Andre Majibire, and then repeated at the weekend by the MDM mayoral candidate in Nampula, Fernando Bismarque.
Naife pointed out that members of STAE and of the National Elections Commission (CNE), appointed by the political parties, supervise the production in South Africa of the election materials. No material is produced without the signed consent of these STAE and CNE members. The material is inspected again before it is transported from South Africa to Mozambique.
Once inside Mozambique, police protection of the election materials is guaranteed, Naife added.
Naife said that so far 1,780 Mozambican and 145 foreign election observers have been accredited. 634 journalists have been accredited (630 from the Mozambican media, and four from foreign media).
Asked whether a Frelimo official, named as Jose Dziwanani, a neighbourhood first secretary in the western city of Tete, has been arrested after shooting a Renamo member, Aly Vanhane, last Thursday, Naife said he did not have that information. Nor could he confirm reports that the wife of the mayor of the town of Marromeu, on the south bank of the Zambezi, has been arrested for destroying Renamo election posters.