Maputo — Little by little, district results from last Tuesday's Mozambican elections are becoming available, all confirming the landslide victory for the incumbent president, Filipe Nyusi, and he ruling Frelimo Party.
Nacala-a-Velha is in the coastal region of the northern province of Nampula, an area long believed to be a stronghold of the main opposition party, Renamo. Yet Nyusi took 63 per cent of the vote here, to just 31 per cent for Renamo leader Ossufo Momade.
But a caveat must be added - there are signs of serious fraud in Nacala-a-Velha, shown by an inexplicably large number of invalid votes.
An invalid vote is one where a voter has apparently tried to vote for more than one party or candidate, or has written something on the ballot paper. Since the 1999 election, there have always been some dishonest polling station staff who have surreptitiously added ink marks to ballot papers, to make it look as if the voter tried to vote for two candidates.
This practice was repeatedly denounced by the National Elections Commissions of the past, and precautions were taken - such as removing all inky objects from the polling station table, and ordering any staff member with dirty hands to wash them before the count. Yet the practice continues, and statistics help us discover it.
There are always a handful of voters who are genuinely confused and end up marking more than one box on the ballot paper, or who want to cast a protest vote and so scrawl insults on their vote. These genuinely invalid votes do not amount to more than a couple of per cent in any polling station.
But when the number of invalid votes ("nulos", in Portuguese) reaches five per cent, suspicions should be aroused. And any polling station where the number of invalid votes is over eight per cent is almost certainly fraudulent.
In Nacala-a-Velha, 11.43 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential election were "nulos", 9.81 per cent in the provincial assembly election, and 8.22 per cent in the parliamentary elections.
These figures are the sum of the invalid votes in all 65 polling stations in Nacala-a-Velha, which means that there must be some individual polling stations where the number is much higher, and probably a good number where the figure is reasonable. That can only be checked from the individual results sheets ("editais") from each station, which AIM does not yet possess.
The results from the three elections in Nacala-a-Velha were as follows (all percentages are of valid votes):
Filipe Nyusi (Frelimo) 11,307 (63.52 per cent)
Daviz Simango (MDM) 755 (4.24 per cent)
Ossufo Momade (Renamo) 5,469 (30.72 per cent)
Mario Albino (AMUSI) 270 (1.52 per cent)
Provincial Assembly election
Frelimo 10,843 (60.68 per cent)
MDM 593 (3.32 per cent)
Renamo 6,111 (34.2 per cent)
AMUSI 321 (1.8 per cent)
Frelimo 10,522 (57.75 per cent)
MDM 590 (3.24 per cent)
Renamo 5,350 (29.36 per cent)
The percentages do not add up to 100 because we have omitted 18 minor parties who, between them took about 9.6 per cent of the parliamentary vote. None of them stand the slightest chance of winning any seats in parliament.
In Massingir district, in the Frelimo heartland of Gaza province, the votes cast in favour of Nyusi and Frelimo approached 100 per cent. Here there was no sign that any votes had been deliberately invalidated, with the number of invalid votes at less than two per cent in all three elections. But the turnout was suspiciously high at over 88 per cent. Turnout nationally was only 55 per cent.
Filipe Nyusi (Frelimo) 18,775 (98.83 per cent)
Daviz Simango (MDM) 33 (0.17 per cent)
Ossufo Momade (Renamo) 187 (0.98 per cent)
Mario Albino (AMUSI) 3 (0.02 per cent)
Provincial Assembly election
Frelimo 18,717 (98.85 per cent)
MDM 31 (0.16 per cent)
Renamo 187 (0.99 per cent)
Frelimo 18,637 (98.5 per cent)
MDM 36 (0.19 per cent)
Renamo 195 (1.03 per cent)