Maputo — Two Mozambican election observation platforms, the "Sala de Paz" (Peace Room) and "Votar Mocambique", on Wednesday gave a positive assessment of the first few hours of voting in Mozambique's municipal elections.
The Sala de Paz spokesperson, Artimisa Franco, told a Maputo press conference that anomalous situations had only occurred in an isolated manner. "We think that the first moments of voting are happening in a tranquil, peaceful and satisfactory way, but there are small incidents that have to be corrected".
The Sala de Paz found that long queues built up outside the polling stations early in the morning, with some people queuing as from 05.00 - two hours before the polls were due to open.
But there were some polling stations that opened hours late. Franco noted that in the polling area of Piscina de Goto in the central city of Beira "by 08.20 some polling stations were still not operating, while in the Amilcar Cabral Primary School, there was one station that had not opened by 09.15, because it did not have a ballot box".
In the Maputo Industrial Institute there were stations that opened late because of delays in assembling the voting booths, and in the Magoanine Secondary School, on the outskirts of the capital, there were stations that opened after 08.00. A station at Incidua, in the central city of Quelimane, opened 45 minutes late, because the polling station Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson were refusing to take up their positions (the reasons for this are not clear).
There were a couple of incidents of illegal campaigning, said Franco. One voter drove up to a polling station in the Zambezia municipality of Alto Molocue in a vehicle displaying propaganda of the ruling Frelimo Party. A voter in the southern city of Inhambane publicly announced who he had voted for. These incidents were interpreted as breaking the rules which allow no campaigning and no political party symbols and propaganda at polling stations.
Votar Mocambique also regarded the initial period of voting as positive, but said there were several incidents in which the Local Response and Reconciliation Coordination (CRRL) which it has set up was called upon to intervene and solve disputes.
According to the platform's coordinator, Felicidade Chirindza, at two polling stations in Mocimboa da Praia, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, disputes broke out between the polling station staff (MMVs) and the monitors of the political parties about how the polling booths should be positioned. In one case this interrupted voting, until the CRRL acted as peacemaker and restored normality.
In Montepuez, also in Cabo Delgado, there were disturbances in the queue at one polling station because of the long time taken by staff to process voters. Chirindza said that Votar Mocambique used its good offices to calm the situation down.