18 October 2018

Mozambique: Civil Society Bodies Say Elections Were Not Free and Fair

Maputo — The Election Observation platform "Votar Mocambique", set up by some of the most credible Mozambican civil society groups, warned on Wednesday that last week's municipal elections were neither free, fair nor transparent.

The platform had observers and correspondents scattered across the 53 municipalities during the voting and the count.

Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Edson Cortes, executive director of the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), who presented the Votar Mocambique report, said "our opinion is that the continual process of intimidation to which voters, and members and heads of lists of opposition parties were subjected culminated in clear situations of electoral violence reported from several municipalities".

"The police did not play a neutral role", said Cortes. "It behaved as a destabilising element for voters, particularly on election day".

He cited police involvement in violent incidents in Tete, Quelimane and Gurue municipalities, and alleged the members of the ruling Frelimo Party "were constantly involved in violent scenes without being detained".

Votar Mocambique also condemned the leaderships of the political parties who had never issued any public statement condemning the illicit behaviour of some of their members. It feared that this silence might encourage further violations in the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for next year.

The Votar Mocambique report ended with a call on parties who feel defrauded to use all the legal mechanisms available to restore justice. It also urged the electoral bodies to observe greater professionalism and neutrality.

Meanwhile the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, is pressing ahead with appeals against results it regards as fraudulent in at least nine municipalities - Moatize, Alto Molocue, Marromeu, Monapo, Tete, Milange, Mocuba, Chimoio and Matola.

The second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), is only appealing against the Matola result. A senior source in the MDM told AIM on Thursday that the party had considered appealing in other municipalities, but had decided against.

While there are credible accusations of fraud in Moatize, Marromeu, Alto Molocue and Marromeu, some of the other Renamo allegations are frivolous.

Thus, according to a report in the independent daily "O Pais", Renamo is claiming that 1,300 residents of Baixo Lugela, which is not in Mocuba, travelled to the Mocuba municipality to vote illicitly there.

The claim that people from outside the municipality, or even from outside the country, voted illicitly in municipal elections is a favourite Renamo allegation, but there is no evidence to support it.

Renamo even claimed massive infiltration of people from outside the municipality to vote in the second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula in March. The then leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, claimed that Frelimo was bussing people in from far away as Maputo (a distance of over 2,000 kilometres) just to vote for the Frelimo candidate in Nampula, Amisse Cololo.

The main problem with this claim is that Cololo lost heavily to the Renamo candidate Paulo Vahanle. After Vahanle's victory no more was heard of busloads of fake voters from Maputo,

Moving people from Baixo Lugela to Mocuba is more feasible - but it is still a distance of 58 kilometres. To move 1,300 people that distance would require a fleet of buses, and they would have to be used twice. Once to register the infiltrators as voters, and then months later to move them in to vote. But nobody in Mocuba reported unusual movements of large numbers of buses.

Mozambique

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