9 October 2018

Mozambique: Tete Violence, But Campaign Ends Calmly Elsewhere

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Mozambique flag.

A violent confrontation between Frelimo and Renamo caravans and a violent police raid on the Renamo headquarters brought the campaign to an end in Tete. Twelve Renamo members remained in jail late Monday, and 14 people were injured and 6 remain in hospital. The detained include one member of the provincial assembly and two candidates for municipal assembly.

There were incidents and irregularities elsewhere, but the majority of our correspondents report that the campaign closed peacefully yesterday. In the big cities such as Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Quelimane, Pemba, and Lichinga the last day of the campaign was a party with exuberant parades and showmicios (a portmanteau word combining "show" in English and "comicio", the Portuguese word for a political rally).

But in Tete in the early evening, Frelimo and Renamo caravans met at the junction of Kenneth Kaunda and 24 de Julho avenues. A car was parked, apparently by Frelimo supporters, to block the Renamo parade. Renamo supporters attacked the car, which was eventually burned. One person in the car was hurt.

The two caravans were both very large and the police could not control the crowd, eventually using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the intersection.

Next the police raided the nearby headquarters of Renamo, and arrested 12 people. STV film showed police hitting the arrestees with truncheons. They were not resisting arrest and the police violence was unnecessary.

The detentions appear to be illegal, because people were not caught in the act at the site of the confrontation.

But this morning the police alleged that it invaded the Renamo headquarters because they were holding three people prisoner inside. They have never been shown or identified. But the Frelimo spokesperson in Tete this morning said that the person detained was the 12-year-old son of the Frelimo campaign director, Castro Ntemansaca. Renamo denies any kidnapping..

"Police were informed of the confusion between supporters of two parties and the scene was getting out of control and colleagues on the ground asked for reinforcement. It was found that supporters of a political party [Renamo] were throwing objects that were damaging a car which was eventually burned and there were three individuals who had been held captive inside the political seat," national police spokesperson Inacio Dina told journalists today in Maputo.

Our Tete correspondent went to police station number 1 and confirmed the detention of the 12 people.

The clinical director of the Tete Provincial Hospital, Mauro Monteiro, said that 13 people had been treated and only 4 remained, but our correspondent found 6 still in hospital. All 13 were Renamo members or supporters.

+ In Alto Molocue, Zambezia, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a Renamo caravan. District police commander, Antonio Mandjendje, said the action was taken to avoid the Renamo caravan clashing with a march of Frelimo. Mandjendje said they asked Renamo to take a different route, but they refused. Renamo district political delegate, Fernando Mario, said Renamo had informed the police in advance of the route its march would follow, and it was following that route.

+ Police in Maputo detained the MDM youth league president Augusto Mbazo for 30 minutes because he asked why a street was closed off, MDM complained. The incident occurred as the MDM caravan passed through the street leading to the Bagamoio sports ground In KaMubukwana district, where a Frelimo rally was taking place. Unlike closing rallies of other parties, this one was heavily escorted by police and the approach road was closed.

Violence and vandalism

Parties tearing down each others posters has been widespread, but otherwise incidents have been relatively minor.

In Milange, Zambezia, Renamo supporters in a caravan Sunday vandalized the headquarters the Frelimo office in First of May neighbourhood. No one was in the office, and invaders ripped up posters. A Frelimo member living nearby was inured and is still hospitalised.

In Mueda, Cabo Delgado, Frelimo said that on Sunday one its members was attacked by MDM members and the Frelimo flag and t-shirt he was wearing were torn off. MDM denied the incident

In Xai-Xai, Gaza, Mousinho Gundurujo, head of Renamo MDM's list and Batista Muba, director of Renamo's electoral office, say they were physically attacked by Frelimo "shock groups", without serious injury. But Renamo member Alfeu Bila was attacked and suffered a fractured arm.

In Sussundenga, Manica, the head of the MDM list, Antonio Meneses, who is a teacher, said he is being threatened with a transfer to far-off places. Head of Human Resources at the Sussundenga District Office of Education, Adelina Manade, told the bulletin she has already instructed her comrades from the Frelimo District Committee to transfer Antonio Meneses far from Sussundenga. Manade says she does not understand why Meneses, being an official of the State and receiving monthly money from a state governed by Frelimo, dares to be the head of the MDM. Therefore she wants severe measures against Meneses.

Also in Sussundenga, two road accidents injured four campaigners.

National police commanders have promised to give protection to all party marches, but MDM spokesman Jocob Chiquele in Quissico, Inhambane, said the police refused to give protection to the MDM campaign final march on Sunday.

About 30 civil society activists marched Sunday in Maputo City against electoral violence, calling on the electoral bodies to ensure a peaceful, transparent and inclusive poll on Wednesday,

Continued use of state cars

The have been continued complaints about Frelimo using state cars and in Dondo, Sofala, Renamo stopped two cars from passing as part of the Frelimo campaign, one of the director of education and the other of the municipal council.

In Manhica, the district administrator this weekend was using her official car, a grey Mahindra AFH 512 MC, for party work.

Inhambane provincial governor Daniel Chapo was using several official cars in the campaign over the weekend in Maxixe and Inhambane.

Job secure so don't need training

Three members of each polling station staff are nominated by parties, in the belief that they will defend their party interests and prevent fraud. But they can only protect their party if they are properly trained. This year STAE training included party nominees. But in Mueda, the party nominees did not attend the training, arguing that their posts are guaranteed and thus they think they don't need to be trained, according to the head of the district elections commission, Rufino Jeremias.

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