Maputo — Turnout in at least some Maputo polling stations in Wednesday's municipal elections was much higher than initially expected.
At two polling stations in the 16 June primary school in the centre of the city, visited by AIM in the evening, each with 800 registered voters, turnout was 74 and 76 per cent - previously unheard of in Mozambican local elections, and contrasting with the low turnout estimated earlier in the day at other Maputo stations.
At the count AIM witnessed, 605 ballots were cast, and the ruling Frelimo Party won with 320 votes (54 per cent of the 590 valid votes) followed by the former rebel movement Renamo with 197 votes (33.4 per cent) and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) with 43 votes (7.3 per cent). The independent citizens group Juntos Pela Cidade (JPC - Together for the City) came fourth with 27 votes (4.6 per cent).
Minor parties collected three votes and here were nine invalid votes and six blank ballots.
Much the same breakdown of the vote is being reported from other central Maputo polling areas. Thus in one polling station in the Polana secondary school, reported by the independent television station STV, Frelimo won with 250 votes, with Renamo coming second with 88 votes. The MDM took 26 votes and JPC 24.
At one of the seven stations in the Filipe Samuel Magaia primary school, Frelimo won with 166 votes, followed by Renamo with 114 votes, the MDM only picked up 29 votes.
The MDM vote in Maputo has clearly collapsed. At the last municipal elections, in 2013, the MDM took 40 per cent of the Maputo vote. But in that year Renamo boycotted the elections, which had the effect of concentrating the entire opposition vote in the MDM.
Many of those voters have now reverted to Renamo. The MDM also suffered a serious blow when its Maputo mayoral candidate in 2013, Venancio Mondlane, defected to Renamo and is currently the spokesperson for the Renamo Maputo campaign.
Information from the northern and central municipalities is still sparse - but STV reported that in eight polling stations in the northern city of Nampula, Renamo won 4,130 votes, with Frelimo coming a rather distant second with 1,763 votes.
It is thus likely that the Renamo mayor of Nampula, Paulo Vahanle, who won the position in a by-election in March, may triumph in this election too - though polling stations from other parts of the city might change the picture.
In the central city of Beira, the current mayor and leader of the MDM, Davis Simango, seems on course for another victory. He has already been mayor for 15 years, and in these elections he was standing for an unprecedented fourth term.
In 13 polling stations cited by STV, the MDM took 2,935 votes. Frelimo was in second place with 2,391 votes, with Renamo bringing up the rear with 1,708 votes.