Mozambique: STAE and Observers Confirm Rocky Start to Registration

New Renamo President Ossufo Momade.

Only 75% of the target of 1.25 million voters was registered in the first week, admitted STAE (Election Technical Secretariat; Secretariado Tecnico da Administracao Eleitoral) in a press conference yesterday afternoon. STAE cited exactly the problems cited in previous issues of this bulletin - no electricity, repeated failures of the registration equipment, inadequate training of staff, and damage caused by cyclone Idai.

And domestic observers in a press conference yesterday morning found that only 84% of registration posts were working properly, and its survey excluded the parts of Manica and Sofala affected by the cyclone and the parts of Cabo Delgado affected by violence.

Nationally there are 5096 registration brigades and STAE reported that more than 11% are paralysed or only partially functioning, including 200 in Sofala, 321 in Zambezia, and 34 in Gaza. STAE hopes to register 17% of the target 7,341,736 people during each of the 6 weeks of registration, but in the first week it hit only 5.8% in Sofala and 8.9% in Zambezia (both of which are opposition areas, raising complaints from Renamo - see below.)

STAE is open about its initial failures, including:

  •  "weak knowledge of the mobile ID by the brigade members" - in effect caused by too little hands-on training;
  •  "delays in delivering solar panels";
  •  "breakdowns of printers and other components of the mobile ID" registration kit; and
  • "disappearance of toner and registration forms".

STAE says these problems were "promptly resolved" by its technicians, but our correspondents disagree. STAE promises that all solar panels will be distributed this week. It also says 700 more brigade members are being trained this week.

STAE points to the "armed attacks in Mocimboa da Praia and Palma in Cabo Delgado". Domestic observers also note the reluctance of people there to register because of the "insurgency"; people are supposed to register near where they live, but many people have fled their home areas to avoid violence.

Nevertheless, STAE also reported that Cabo Delgado had the highest registration, with 22% of possible voters registering in the first week.

45% of mobile IDs are old

STAE spokesperson Claudio Langa said that of 5,400 mobile IDs, 3,000 are new and the others were used in 2013/14 for registration. The old equipment was sent to districts with municipalities, where most people registered last year so there would be less pressure. And as expected, turnout has been very low in those district.

Langa also explained that "the main cause of breakdowns was the generators which supplied electricity at the wrong level for the mobile IDs and which damaged the printers."

STAE has already distributed 2000 solar panel kits and will distribute another 1000. In areas with mains electricity, STAE is also trying to create charging centres for the mobile ID batteries.

Langa also admitted that many brigade members were not wearing the proper uniform because they had not been distributed.

Many not receiving voters cards

Domestic observers point to widespread printer problems, which meant that in many areas people were allowed to register but were not given their voters card. In some districts, cards are being printed at the district centre and then given to registration brigades to hand out. This is happening in Metuge (Cabo Delgado), Gurue (Zambezia), Gondola, Nhamatanda and Chimoio (Manica) and Moamba and Marracuene (Maputo province).

Observers noted that 62% of brigade staff are women. Most posts are not easily accessible to people with disabilities. Party monitors from Frelimo and/or Renamo were present in 98% of registration posts.

There is a problem with observer credentials not being issued in parts of all provinces, particularly in parts of Zambezia and Tete. Another problem is that some credentials are being issued on ordinary A4 paper rather than a plastic covered card with a photo, and these paper credentials are not always accepted.

Observers visited 562 posts in 100 districts during the first week. Domestic observation is being run by a coalition of six groups: Associacao Desenvolvimento e Sociedade (ADS), Comissao Episcopal de Justica e Paz (CEJP) da Igreja Catolica, Liga de ONGs Mocambicanas (JOINT), Centro de Aprendizagem e Capacitacao da Sociedade Civil (CESC), Solidariedade Mocambique, and Sociedade Aberta (SA).

Renamo hits incompetence of STAE and demands director general be sacked

Renamo yesterday denounced what it called the incompetence, negligence and incapacity of STAE to resolve problems. Spokesperson Andre Magibire said that "in nearly all provinces there is a lack of solar panels, cables and transformers." He, too, cited the problem of equipment breakdowns.

Renamo says that in Cabo Delgado in Chiure district 21 posts are closed and in Mocimboa da Praia 6 are closed because of the attacks in the region.

Renamo alleges that in some posts in Niassa people are only registered if their documents are given to the brigades by neighbourhood secretaries or community leaders (who are usually Frelimo). In Sanga district this occurred in Nassengenge, Ngongoti, Badarila, Licole, Melania and Mapudje.

Magibire said that in Nampula registration posts are in the houses of neighbourhood secretaries in Mongincual and Mecubre districts.

In Zambezia, he said that of 40 posts in Mocuba district, only 18 are open. Morrumbala, posts in Guirita, Chiromo, Binda and Boroma are not operating because of lack of solar panels.

In Macanga district, Tete, Renamo says that voters who try to register using their 2014 cards as identification are being sent to community leaders to verify they are not Malawian.

Also in Tete, Renamo alleges that community leaders blocked the registration of Renamo members in Chizormondo administrative post, Macanga district. STAE countered that Renamo was sending party monitors who were not registered.

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