Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Friday claimed victory in Wednesday's municipal election in the southern city of Matola, which is the second largest city in the country.
At a press conference in Matola, Renamo claimed that its parallel count, of 92 per cent of the polling stations, gives it a two per cent lead over the ruling Frelimo Party. The switch to Renamo has crushed the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which took less than four per cent of the votes.
In the previous municipal elections in 2013, which Renamo boycotted, the MDM won over 42 per cent of the vote in Matola. This time the bulk of the MDM vote appears to have gone over to Renamo.
The figures announced by Renamo from its parallel count were as follows:
Renamo: 133,059 Frelimo: 124,477 MDM: 10,082
If these figures are accurate, then Renamo candidate Antonio Muchanga will be the next mayor of Matola. It is virtually impossible for Frelimo to close the gap with the remaining eight per cent of polling stations.
The provisional results issued by the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) stopped abruptly at around midday on Thursday, with only 64 per cent of the Matola votes processed. The paralysis of the STAE website for 24 hours is inexplicable, since STAE must have all the results sheets ("editais"), not only for Matola but for all the other municipalities.
Obviously, STAE's failure to continue publishing the results feeds the rumour mill, and inevitably leads to suspicions that fraud is being planned.
Meanwhile, in the northern province of Nampula, the District Elections Commission (CDE) in the town of Angoche, has confirmed Renamo's victory in this municipality.
The figures issued by the Angoche CDE are as follows:
Total number of valid votes: 25,741
Renamo: 13,176 (51.2 per cent) Frelimo: 10,612 (41.2 per cent) MDM: 1,127 (4.3 per cent)
The missing three per cent of the votes went to a couple of minor parties. The turnout in Angoche was 58.6 per cent.
Results from the CDEs are not definitive. They must be confirmed by the National Elections Commission (CNE), and validated by the Constitutional Council, the highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law.