Maputo — With just two days to go before Mozambique's general and provincial elections, several of the provincial elections commissions are still refusing to issue credentials for independent election observation groups.
The most serious problem is with the observer groups coordinated by EISA (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa). Not a single credential was issued for any of the EISA groups on Friday, reports the "Mozambique Political Process Bulletin", published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP).
Various feeble excuses have been given for the failure to issue credentials. An EISA representative in Tete province said the local branch of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat claimed the material for making credentials "was all used up and they have already ordered more. We spoke to the Director and he said he would give us attention but it depends on supplies of material in Maputo".
EISA in Tete asked for A4 paper credentials and the director "said it can't be done because national STAE didn't approve this format and it has no legitimacy to do so"
Yet the EISA representative watched as paper credentials were made for Red Cross volunteers, who will provide first aid at the polling stations. So with the political will, it was clearly possible to produce credentials in Tete. EISA had applied for 1156 observer credentials in Tete. Only 337 (29%) had been issued by Friday.
In Zambezia, it was said that some credentials had been printed, but none were actually handed to EISA on Friday. 1,227 EISA credentials have yet to be issued in Zambezia.
One observer told the Bulletin "In Zambezia we are at STAE on duty. No one is here to attend to us. We called the president of the Elections Commission, but he did not answer. We asked the guard who said they are in a meeting. The secretary said she would call the communications department but they did not reply."
An EISA observer in Sofala province said "We have been at STAE since morning. No credentials yet. After waiting so long and unsuccessfully, we found the chief of operations. He said Monday."
One bright spot is that after much persistence, CIP itself has obtained all the 486 credentials it requested. The last batch (for Zambezia) were issued on Friday, and then only because of direct intervention by the CNE. The Zambezia Commission never responded to the CIP request, although the election law says that commissions have a maximum of five days to respond to applications for observer credentials.
The coalition of observer bodies known as "Sala da Paz" (Peace Room) was told that 174 out of the 285 credentials requested in Zambezia are ready. But 200 applications for Sala da Paz observers in Nampula have been turned for reasons that are far from clear.