Mozambique: CNE Further Muddies Provincial Waters

There will be district lists for the provincial assemblies (AP), even though parliament abolished them, the National Elections Commission (CNE) announced Monday. The law itself is confused and the CNE has further muddied the waters.

Under the old law, the constituency for the AP was the district, with district lists composed of local people registered to vote in the district. The new agreement with Renamo means that the governor is the head of the electoral list which gains the most votes. The old system had no single provincial list. So the new law (article 6 of law 3/2019) says the constituency is the entire province.

The confusion comes from the rest of article 6, which says that to maintain "representative democracy", 85% of seats are to be distributed to districts by the d'Hondt system. But if districts are no longer constituencies, how is that to be done? The law says that the CNE must "materialise" article 6.

The CNE announced yesterday morning that there will be separate district and provincial lists. CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica told this bulletin that to be on a district list the candidate must be  registered in the district. Does the instruction to "materialise" article 6 give the CNE the right to imposed an additional condition on candidates which is not in the law?

When asked how votes were to be counted, Cuinica would not say. He only said a directive would be issued soon. Under the current laws, votes are counted for the constituency - which is now the province for both national and provincial parliaments. Seats are allocated to parties in the constituency under the d'Hondt system and candidates are elected in order from a single party list. But if there are both provincial and district lists, how is this to be done? How to select candidates from district lists based on a provincial count? Or is the CNE allowed to return to the district count of the old law? The law gives no guidance and the CNE remains mute. The provincial waters are now even more murky.

Gaza gains 9 seats; Nampula, Zambezia and Sofala lose 9

The number of parliament seats for each province were announced Sunday by the CNE. As predicted here, Frelimo-dominated Gaza gains 9 seats while Renamo-majority Nampula, Zambezia and Sofala lose 9.

It was announced at the Monday press conference that the CNE voted to approve the seat distribution by 11 to 5, with Frelimo and allies voting in favour and opposition voting against. The opposition argues that the Gaza registration is impossible and is gerrymandering by Frelimo. The 2017 population census said there were 750,000 voting age adults in Gaza, yet the CNE said 1,166,000 registered - 400,000 more people than census takers found.

Of the 250 seat parliament, 248 seats are distributed by province according to the number of registered voters. The remaining seats are one for Mozambicans in Africa and one for Mozambicans in the rest of the world.

Frelimo seems likely to pick up two more seats due to an error in the law and a choice by the CNE.

The problem is that the law says that to determine the number of parliament (AR) seats per province, first divide the number of voters registered in Mozambique by 248 to give the number of voters per seat. Next for each province divide the number of voters by that number to determine the number of seats. But it does not work, because you cannot have half an MP, and rounding to ensure whole MPs often leads to an error. This year, the formula only gives 249 members of parliament instead of 250. (Only 248 seats are for provinces; 2 are for Mozambicans abroad.)

This has long been recognised and various methods have been developed. Many countries use the d'Hondt method to assign seats, and Mozambique uses d'Hondt everywhere except for calculating the number of seats for each province. The error has been noted repeatedly, but the law is never changed. Until now, the CNE has always made the correction in secret, and this Bulletin has always pointed out the secret change. On Sunday the CNE published a table admitting that it had made the change, giving the extra seat of Maputo Province, which votes a majority for Frelimo.

As we note about, the number of voters in a province is divided by the number of voters per seat. This gives a coefficient listed in the table below. Rounding means that if the decimal is more than 0.5 the number is rounded up to the next higher whole number and if it is less than 0.5 it is rounded down to the lower whole number.

Maputo provinces has a coefficient of 19.46. The decimal part, 0.46 is closest to 0.50, so the extra seat is given to Maputo province. But the law does not authorise this choice, made by the CNE.

The d'Hondt method does not give the extra seat to Maputo Province. Instead it gives 1 seat extra each to Nampula (46 instead of 45) and Zambezia (42 instead of 41) and 1 seat less each to  Inhambane (12 instead of 13) and Gaza (21 instead of 22).

Find full table here.

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