Mozambique: Renamo Takes Voter Registration to Attorney-General

Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, announced on Wednesday that it will ask the Attorney-General's Office (PGR) to open criminal proceedings against all those members of the electoral bodies, who allegedly manipulated the voter registration in the southern province of Gaza.

Renamo has pointed out that the numbers from the voter registration (held from 15 April to 30 May) contradict those from the 2017 population census.

The definitive figures from the 2017 Census, released in late April this year, show a total population of Gaza of 1,422,460. Adjusted by the average population growth rate of 2.8 per cent a year, in 2019 there can, at most, be 1.5 million people in Gaza, and at least half of these are children, under the voting age of 18.

Yet the Electoral Administration Technical secretariat (STAE) set a target for voter registration in Gaza of 1.14 million, and the final number of voters supposedly registered in the province was 1,166,011. That figure is over 400,000 more than the total number of people of voting age in Gaza: nonetheless the National Elections Commission (CNE) rubber-stamped it, brushing aside comments from reporters that the figure is impossible.

The 250 seats in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, are allocated to the provincial constituencies in proportion to their registered electorate. At the last general elections, in 2014, Gaza had 14 seats. This year, the CNE has given Gaza 22 seats - eight more than in 2014. No other province has seen such a wild swing in its registered electorate and its number of seats.

Renamo appealed against the Gaza voter registration to the Constitutional Council, the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, but the Council threw the appeal out on Tuesday on procedural grounds. It argued that Renamo had plenty of opportunities to protest at the Gaza registration posts themselves and could have challenged the registration figures when they were approved by the Gaza Provincial Election Commission on 13 June.

Instead it waited until the CNE approved the registration figures for the entire country on 23 June, by which time it was too late.

According to a report on the independent television station STV, the Renamo election agent, Venancio Mondlane, protested that the Council had taken its decision based on "formalities", and had completely ignored the content of the Renamo complaint.

Since there can be no appeal against decisions of the Constitutional Council, Renamo has changed tack and will attempt to initiate criminal proceedings against STAE and CNE members.

Mondlane said Renamo will also ask the PGR for an independent audit of the Gaza voter registration.

Asked if Renamo really expected to win this case, Mondlane replied "nobody goes into a game expecting to lose. We are confident, because what we are doing is within the law. What sustains our persistence is the fact that we are acting within legality".

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