Independent electoral observation was of decisive importance in carrying out parallel counts and exposing corruption and the theft of the elections in 4 municipalities last year. This year, Frelimo appears to be trying to block observation, or at least to make it as difficult as possible. The recent revelation that the Foreign Ministry has refused to accredit International IDEA, the EU observer support body, underlines the problem.
Problems began with the re-run of part of the municipal election in Marromeu last year. Journalists and observers were attacked and prevented for watching the counts in polling stations. This year provincial elections commissions are putting many obstacles in the way of observers trying to register.
The domestic observer platform which includes six civil society organisations with three observers in each district has protested about the detention of its observers, the refusal to issue credentials, illegal demands for documents, and what seems as intentional confusion about the format of the credential.
CIP, which is the publisher of this Bulletin which has three observers in each district, has also faced difficulties. With just 10 days to go before the end of registrations, Zambezia, Sofala, and Cabo Delgado were still refusing to issue credentials. Gaza finally issued credentials two weeks before the end of registration, but some districts refused to accept credentials issued at provincial level.
In Guija, a STAE representative said that "no observer can talk to the district elections commission or go to a registration post without first talking to the STAE director." Even after that brigades in some areas said they were under orders not to speak to observers.
In Funhalouro and Mabote (Inhambane) brigade members said they had orders from above not to speak to observers.
Is Frelimo trying to make sure no one is watching?