8 May 2019

Mozambique: Terror Attacks Affect Registration in Cabo Delgado

Photo: Capital FM
(file photo).

Maputo — A wave of renewed terrorist attacks in parts of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado over the weekend has paralysed several voter registration posts, reports the latest issue of the "Mozambique Political Process Bulletin" (published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity, CIP).

On Friday, a registration post in Nacate village, in Macomia district, was attacked and equipment vandalised. The registration brigade escaped unharmed, but the attackers, believed to be Islamic fundamentalists, then attacked houses in the village, burning down several of them, and killing six people.

Also in Macoma, the Bulletin reported, insurgents attacked Ntapuala and Banga-Velha villages, killing a teacher who was caught riding his motorcycle, and burning three people inside their houses.

On Saturday night a terrorist group entered Iba and Ipho villages in Meluco district, and after the villagers had fled, the insurgents spent the night drinking in the village. (This report contradicts claims in the early stages of the insurgency in 2017 that the gangs consisted of fanatics who want to impose sharia law and ban the sale of alcohol.)

On Sunday, insurgents - perhaps the same group - attacked Minhanha villege in Meluco, killing three people and burning about 100 houses. Because of these attacks, five of the 38 registration posts in Meluco district were closed on Monday.

The Bulletin reports that attempts by foreigners (Zambians, Zimbabwean and Malawians) to register as Mozambican voters have been thwarted in Manica and Tete provinces.

The BulIetin's correspondents in Manica province report 23 cases, 17 in Manica district, 5 in Tambara, and 1 in Vanduzi. At one post, at the very start of registration, on 15 April six Zimbabweans arrived with no documents but with an already registered voter prepared to give false testimony that they were local and Mozambican. Roberto Luís, the local head of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), said there were many Zimbabweans living and working in this border district.

In Tete 10 cases have been reported. In Maravia the district administrator confiscated voters' cards from six Zambians who had succeeded in registering. In Zambezia 4 cases have been reported.

In the past, there have been frequent opposition claims that the ruling Frelimo Party is bringing in foreigners to register and later to vote. But the Bulletin suggests that, in these cases, foreigners already resident in Mozambique have no great interest in voting, but are attempting to obtain Mozambican identity documents.

Three weeks after the start of the registration, many observers are still being denied the credentials to which they are entitled. The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) blames this on excessive red tape, a demand for unnecessary documents, and unclear rules about what constitutes a credential. Whatever the reasons, this confusion means that it is hard to claim that the registration is transparent.

In one extraordinary abuse, a registration brigade member in Chemba district, Sofala province, named Paulo Joao, was sacked on 22 April because he had lunch in the house of a Renamo member. The local STAE director David Tungane confirmed to the Bulletin that Joåo was dismissed because of "his links with a Renamo member".

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