Mozambique: Most Registration Brigades Operating but Electricity Problems Persist

Maputo — Although most of Mozambique's 5,096 voter registration brigades are now functioning fairly smoothly, some still have to make major efforts, particularly to cope with electricity problems, reports the latest issue of the "Mozambican Political Process Bulletin" (published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity, CIP).

Thus at one registration post at Luazi, in Mogovolas district, in the northern province of Nampula, there is no solar panel and no other way to charge the computer used for registration. So to keep registering voters, brigade members must take the computer, by bicycle or motorbike. seven kilometres to Nhambupo Rio, the nearest place where they can recharge it. They are accompanied by a policeman to maintain security.

The brigade member in charge of data input, Dionisio Antono, told the Bulletin they have talked repeatedly to the Mogovolas district branch of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), which says a solar panel will arrive "tomorrow". But this STAE delegation has a rather elastic definition of "tomorrow", and the brigade members are still making a 14 kilometre round trip every day to charge the computer.

On the positive side, registration has resumed at nine posts in Mocimboa da Praia district in Cabo Delgado province. The registration had been halted there because of attacks by insurgents, believed to be motivated by Islamic fundamentalism.

But the Bulletin also reports serious abuses, notably the completely illegal demand that state employees, such as teachers, register at or near their workplaces, rather than near their homes. The Bulletin notes that these illegal instructions often come from school directors, who are apparently trying to control how the teachers vote.

In Macate district, in the central province of Manica teachers say they were told by the director to register at the school, even though many live in other areas, and commute to work every day. One teacher reported the director as saying he had received "orders from above".

The Bulletin notes that the same illegal instructions were given to state employees during registration in some municipalities ahead of the 2018 municipal elections.

STAE spokesperson Claudio Langa told AIM on Friday that in 2018 "we raised the awareness of our colleagues in the districts that the legislation speaks of people voting in the areas where they normally reside".

He was not aware of the same abuse happening this year, but promised that STAE will check it out and take the same measures as in 2018.

Cases have also been reported of voters registering more than once. Thus at a post in Mopeia district, Zambezia province, a man was discovered registering for the fourth time: he even boasting of what he was doing, showing the other three cards to people in the queue. But when the police were called, he fled.

In Macate, Manica, a man showed three voter cards in his name all issued at the same post on the same day. He said he was told to register three times by the local neighbourhood secretary, which the secretary denied. The STAE district head of operations, Arcanjo Joaquim, confirmed the case, and said there was a printing error on two of the cards, which should not have been given to the man.

Multiple registrations by the same person could distort the registration statistics, but, in principle, they cannot be used by anybody to vote more than once. This is because voters must dip a finger in indelible ink, and polling station staff must check the hands of anyone attempting to vote, to see whether they have already received the ink.

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