Maputo — The chairperson of Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, on Sunday urged citizens of voting age to make their way to the voter registration posts, to ensure that they are on the electoral role for the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections due to be held on 15 October.
Voter registration begins on Monday, and will last for 45 days, until 30 May. The registration posts will open at 07.00 and close at 18.00 over the entire 45 day period. Initially, registration was scheduled for 1 April to 15 may, but the havoc caused by cyclone Idai and the ensuing floods in the central provinces forced a postponement of a fortnight.
Carimo said the registration is taking place in a very difficult moment, and promised that the areas affected by the cyclone "will receive special attention from the electoral bodies".
Carimo promised that, in addition to the fixed registration posts, there will be mobile brigades covering certain areas to reduce the distance between voters' homes and the nearest registration post. It is hoped that this will eliminate distance as a factor in people not receiving voter cards, and consequently not voting.
The registration covers all Mozambicans aged 18 years and above, except those who already registered last year for the October 2018 municipal elections. The CNE hopes that over 7.3 million new voters will register. Over 6.8 million people registered last year for the municipal elections, in the districts containing municipalities, so the new registration should bring the total electorate to around 14.1 million.
One of the peculiarities of the Mozambican system is that voter registration is done from scratch every five years, and the old voter cards become invalid. Someone who attained his 18th birthday in 1994, the year of the first multi-party elections is now 43 years old and this will be his sixth voter card - all of them utterly useless, except the most recent.
The voter registration brigades will also issue new cards to voters in the municipalities who have lost their 2018 card - and there are expected to be a large number of these in the flood affected areas. They will also handle changes of address whereby voters must change the municipality or province where they are registered to vote.
There are 7,737 registration posts - but because, of the mobile brigades mentioned by Carimo, there are only 5,096 registration brigades.
The training of the brigades ended last Thursday. 18,000 people were trained and the best 15,288 selected. All should have been in place by Sunday night. In addition there are 6,000 civic education workers who have been in the field since 8 April, encouraging citizens to register. 5,000 police will be assigned to the registration brigades.
In areas where access is difficult, the CNE, and its executive body, STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat), say that unconventional means of transport will be used to take the brigades to their posts, including small boats and canoes, tractors, and carts drawn by animals.
STAE spokesperson Claudio Langa told AIM late on Monday morning that all brigades were on the ground, although it was too early to say how many were able to start their work promptly at 07.00. He said that four brigades are being hindered by rain in Chifunde district in the western province of Tete.
But, overall, "there are no major problems", said Langa.