Mozambique: Observer Credential Scandal Continues

Maputo — The Mozambican electoral bodies delivered a few more observer credentials on Tuesday morning to the largest independent observation organisation, the five groups coordinated by EISA (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Development in Africa), according to the latest issue of the "Mozambique Political Process Bulletin", published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP).

90 credentials were issued to EISA in Nampula province, and 98 in Zambezia. They came too late for those observers to work in the more remote areas of the two provinces. And 2,915 EISA observers were left without credentials and so unable to enter the polling stations.

There is a remarkable disparity in provincial attitudes towards independent observers. Gaza was far and away the worst, issuing only 16 per cent of the credentials requested by EISA. Zambezia issued 21 per cent and Tete 39 per cent.

In the last few days the situation improved in the largest of the 11 provincial constituencies, Nampula, which issued 63 per cent of the credentials requested, as did Sofala. The other six constituencies - Nampula, Cabo Delgado, Manica, Inhambane, Maputo province and Maputo city - issued 100 per cent of the EISA credentials.

As voting draws to a close, it is becoming clear that initial hopes of a high turnout have been dashed. In the early morning, there were long queues outside many polling stations, particularly in Zambezia and Nampula.

But by early afternoon, the queues in many parts of the country had dwindled to a trickle of voters. AIM's survey of central Maputo stations after 14.00 showed only small groups of people waiting to vote.

The Bulletin reports queues of 40-60 people at Cabo Delgado stations after midday, suggesting that turnout may be high in that province. Beira still had some long queues, but there was almost nobody queuing in the neighbouring city of Dondo. In Manica, Tete, and Niassa queues were reported in some areas after midday, while others were virtually deserted.

The Bulletin predicts a turnout of less than 50 per cent of the 12.9 million voters. This would be in line with the long term trend. There was initial enthusiasm for multi-party elections, in the 1990s, seen as key to ending the war between the government forces and Renamo, but interest in elections has waned subsequently.

Turnout in the first multi-part election, in 1994, was 88 per cent, falling to a still respectable 74 per cent in 1999. Turnout in the subsequent general elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014 was 43 per cent, 45 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

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