Mozambique: Renamo CNE Members Break Silence to Accuse STAE Head of Sabotage

Mozambique elections (file photo).

Equipment failures linked to power supply problems badly affected voter registration in Nampula, Zambezia, Sofala. This was the result of a deliberate decision by the Technical Secretariat of the Electoral Administration (STAE) Director General Felisberto Naife, claimed Fernando Mazanga, a member of the National Election Commission (CNE) appointed by Renamo.

At a press conference last week, Mazanga said he was speaking on behalf of all members of the CNE and STAE indicated by Renamo. He said STAE technicians and CNE members has both recommended that Mobile IDs (registration laptop computers) and sources of electricity should be provided by the same entity to ensure full compatibility. Mazanga accused Naife of ignoring this advice and ordering 3000 computers and power supplies separately, with the result that transformers did not match the computers. "The Director General of STAE chose to separate the Mobile IDs from the energy sources, which brought all the problems that occurred because of the incompatibilities between them," he said.

Mazanga said he was breaking protocol to tell the public what he and his colleagues nominated by the opposition have been saying inside the CNE, but were being ignored. By law, CNE members should not appear in public to assume a political position on the electoral process.

"For the first time we are speaking to the media. We did not do it earlier because we hoped that in the debates taking place in the CNE our views would be taken into account," Mazanga said. Renamo cannot stop irregularities because the Frelimo majority does not listen.

The Director General of the STAE has two deputy directors, appointed by Frelimo and Renamo.  But, according to Mazanga, when the director general of the STAE is called by the Council of Ministers, he is not accompanied by his deputies.

"The most glaring case was on 28 May 2019, which Naife went alone to the Council of Ministers, and the spokesperson of STAE appeared in a televised debate to affirm categorically that there would be no extension of the electoral census. Yet there has been no CNE plenary to deliberate on the subject," he said.

The opposition has called for the dismissal of Naife, but this has been rejected by the Frelimo majority, Mazanga said.

Following military action by Renamo in 2013/14, there were negotiations over the structure of electoral bodies. Renamo wanted parity with Frelimo on all electoral bodies, but it eventually accepted representatives in proportion to seats in parliament, which gives Frelimo an automatic majority.

Civil society calls for a neutral, independent electoral commission such as the one in neighbouring South Africa were rejected. Renamo always wanted a politicised body that acted in secret. Renamo's assumption was that it would be easier to make deals in secret. But it appears that all electoral deals are off.

Gentleman's agreement not to touch the CNE before the elections?

Nine of the 17 members of the National Election Commission (CNE) ended their six-year mandate in May but there is still no plan to replace them. Of these, 5 are indicated by Frelimo, 3 indicated by civil society aligned with Frelimo and one by MDM. Because of an initial boycott by Renamo, the current 17 members of the CNE took office in three groups at different times. Consequently, each group completes six years on a different date.

Among the members of the CNE with an expired mandate is the current President of the CNE, Sheik Abdul Carimo Nordine Sau; the vice-President of the CNE nominated by Frelimo, Antonio Chipanga; and Paulo Cuinica, nominated by civil society (with support from Frelimo), and CNE spokesperson.

The law is unclear on the termination of the mandate of the members of the CNE. In addition to mentioning that the term of office lasts six years, it adds that "the mandate of the members of the National Election Commission is to cease with the inauguration of the new members", which means that if new members are not named, the present members remain in post. There seems to be a gentlemen's agreement, reached by Frelimo and Renamo, to keep the current members of the CNE in office until the end of the electoral process.

After being nominated, the members of the CNE are confirmed by parliament (Assembly of the Republic, AR). The next parliament session is in September, one month before the elections. CNE believes that it would not be correct to replace members during the electoral cycle.

The 17 members of the CNE are:

Initial group began in May 2013

1. Abdul Carimo Sau - CNE president (civil society);
2. Rabia Valgy (civil society)
3. Paulo Cuinica - spokesperson (civil society)
4. António Chipanga - 1st vice-president (Frelimo)
5. Rodrigues Timba (Frelimo)
6. António Muacorica (Frelimo)
7. Abílio da Conceição Diruai (Frelimo)
8. Eugénia Chimpene (Frelimo)
9. Barnabé Ncomo (MDM)
Second group, joined March 2014
10. Meque Brás - 2nd vice-president (Renamo)
11. Latino Caetano Barros Ligonha (Renamo)
12. Celestino Taveiras da Costa Xavier (Renamo)
13. Fernando Mazanga (Renamo)
3rd group, joined April 2014
14. Jeremias Timana (civil society)
15. Salomão Moyana (civil society)
16. Apolinário João (civil society)
17. José Belmiro (civil society)

Presidential candidates must submit 10,000 signatures by Sunday

Presidential candidates must submit 10,000 notarized signatures to the Constitutional Council by Sunday 16 June. So far, only Frelimo has submitted the signatures for Filipe Nyusi.

Parties must register to stand, and by yesterday (Monday 10 June) 17 parties had submitted their documents, including the three main parties: Frelimo, Renamo and MDM. There are two new parties appealing to youth, of which Podemos has submitted its documents. The other is Nova Democracia, founded by the former president of the youth parliament, Salomao Muchanga. He says 80% of the party's candidates must be between 21 and 35 years old. Parties must submit their documents to the CNE by Saturday 15 June.

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