14 May 2019

Mozambique: Pace of Voter Registration Improves

Maputo — Over the past week, the pace of voter registration in Mozambique, ahead of the general elections scheduled for 15 October has picked up substantially.

According to the figures published on Tuesday by the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the 5,096 registration brigades have now registered 50.35 per cent of the target figure of 7.34 million new voters.

From the start of the registration on 15 April to last Sunday, the brigades had registered 3,696,520 voters. The last time figures were issued, covering the period from 15 April to 5 May, the number registered was 2,701,365, or 36.79 per cent of the target.

So in a week, the brigades registered 995,155 voters. At this rate, the target figure is still not within grasp. The daily registration rate over the past week rose to 142,165. There are 18 days left before the end of the registration period, on 30 May, and, at the current rate, about 2.6 million voters could be registered by then.

Thus would bring total registration to about 6.3 million, or 85 per cent of the target.

However, it should be noted that the figures published by STAE lag behind the real registration totals, because not all the brigades are able to send their figures to the STAE provincial or national offices on time. Thus real registration by last Sunday was certainly rather higher than 3.7 million.

Registration is not spread evenly across the country - some provinces are doing much better than others. The southern province of Gaza has registered 74.79 per cent of its target. Cabo Delgado in the far north is in second position, registering 64.15 per cent. This is quite remarkable, given that in parts of the province registration stopped for several days in the wake of cyclone Kenneth, which hit the Cabo Delgado coast on 25 April. Problems were also reported of the depopulation of some areas as people fled from their villages for fear of attacks by terrorist groups, supposedly inspired by Islamic fundamentalism.

The province with the worst registration rate is the one with the fewest logistical or communications problems - Maputo City. The capital has only registered 33.6 per cent of its target.

While it is true that most of the city's electorate registered last year, for the municipal elections, there are still an estimated 120,655 Maputo residents who either attain the voting age of 18 this year, or who, for whatever reason, failed to register in 2018. At the current rate, half of them will not be registered by 30 May.

The central province of Sofala, the province worst hit by cyclone Idai, which struck on 14 March, is also lagging badly, with only 37.66 per cent of its target registered so far.

The full list of percentages provided by STAE, from north to south, is as follows:

Niassa 40.54 per cent

Cabo Delgado 64.15 per cent

Nampula 44.18 per cent

Zambezia 56.2 per cent

Tete 46.37 per cent

Manica 60.29 per cent

Sofala 37.66 per cent

Inhambane 46.98 per cent

Gaza 74.79 per cent

Maputo province 37.71 per cent

Maputo City 33.6 per cent

Total 50.35 per cent

STAE also published figures of registration of Mozambicans living in the diaspora, where the registration runs from1-30 May. Two of the 250 deputies in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, are elected by Mozambicans living abroad. Nine countries (seven in Africa and two in Europe) are deemed to have large enough Mozambican communities to hold elections.

But so far the results of the registration are very poor. STAE estimates the total potential electorate in the nine countries at 116,440 - but only 28,710 (24.66 per cent) have registered at Mozambican embassies and consulates.

Over half this electorate - 65,536 - is living in South Africa and 34.98 per cent had registered by Sunday. This is by far the best registration figure from the diaspora. The worst is from Zambia, where only 2.36 per cent of a potential electorate of 2,590 have registered.

The figures from all nine countries are as follows:

South Africa 34.98 per cent

Eswatini 29.31 per cent

Zimbabwe 15.04 per cent

Malawi 11.06 per cent

Zambia 2.36 per cent

Tanzania 2.95 per cent

Kenya 18.91 per cent

Portugal 25.77 per cent

Germany 7.27 per cent.

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