Maputo — Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) has broken the electoral law by failing to make the promised state funding for the general election campaign available to the competing political parties in good time.
The electoral law states that the funds should be made available to the parties 21 days before the start of the official election campaign. The campaign began on 31 August, and so state funding should have been paid to the parties by 10 August.
In fact, by the time the campaign began, most parties had not received the money. The CNE acknowledged this and blamed the Finance Ministry for not disbursing the funds.
In theory, 180 million meticais (2.9 million US dollars, at current exchange rates) will be paid from the state budget for the campaign. 60 million meticais will go to the four presidential candidates, 60 million to the parliamentary campaign, and 60 million to the campaign for the election of the ten provincial assemblies - in the case of the parliamentary and provincial campaigns the allocation of the money will be in proportion to the number of candidates each party is standing.
Small parties say that they are entirely dependent on the state funding for their operations. Clearly they have not read the electoral law which says that the state subsidy is intended only as a supplement to the money which the parties raise from their own members and supporters.
There are 26 parties and coalitions contesting the 15 October elections. The only ones that have seats in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, are the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
Most of the others received a derisory number of votes in the last elections in 2014. They have few members, no publications and do not even have websites. For most of the time, nothing is heard from them - but every five years, they come to life for elections, in an attempt to claim state subsidies.
Frelimo, Renamo and the MDM all started their campaigns at the weekend with large rallies and parades across the country. According to a report in the "Mozambique Political Process Bulletin", published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), both Renamo and the MDM have ordered propaganda material on credit. The suppliers know that, from these two large parties, the money will be forthcoming.
Small parties enjoy no such trust, and several told the Bulletin they are entirely dependent on the state subsidy to launch their campaigns.
In at least one case, this was obviously untrue. AMUSI (Action of the United Movement for All-round Salvation) and it presidential candidate, Mario Albino, despite their complaints of poverty, launched their campaign with a parade in Nampula on Saturday.
Cornelio Quivela, a former Renamo parliamentary deputy, who quit Renamo to set up his own organisation, the Mozambican Humanitarian Party (PAHUMO), called for the election to be postponed, claiming that without funds he will not have enough time to compete with the established parties.
Opposition spokespersons (Nilton Barros of the MDM, and Antonio Timba of Renamo) claimed that the delay in disbursing the funds was a deliberate government ploy to prejudice the opposition - although both Renamo and the MDM launched vigorous campaigns on time.