Mozambique: 'Whole Districts Stuffed Votes for Nyusi'

Mozambique ruling party Frelimo supporters (file photo).

Whole districts stuffed votes for Nyusi

District election results show that entire districts were stuffing the ballot boxes for Nyusi, either with physical ballot paper or by changing the results at polling station or district level. An incredible 19 of out 138 districts have a turnout above 75%, and all of them voted more than 80% for Nyusi. In Gaza, many of the ghosts voted - there were polling stations with no queue throughout the day but somehow reported high turnouts and votes for Frelimo. And across the country, there are more votes for president than for parliament, and the extra votes are all for Nyusi - probably the result of many people across the country putting a few extra ballot papers into the box. People were caught with extra ballot papers and during the counts there were reports of several ballot papers folded together.

There were many kinds of misconduct in this election, made much worse by illegal restrictions on independent observation. The Bulletin on Friday wrote about the role of "Decentralised control and intimidation". A prominent civil society leader was assassinated by the police; opposition party leaders have been gunned down. The EU talked of the "climate of fear". Laws were violated and intimidation stepped up, starting with the registration which included ghost voters in Gaza and limits to registration in Zambezia.

The illegal restrictions on observation and party delegates made it much harder to monitor the voting, counting, and moving ballots to districts. Party delegates were arrested for complaining about ballot box stuffing, or intimidated to remain silent.

Ballot box stuffing is only a tiny corner of a much larger picture. However, our tables of 138 of 160 districts provide a window on fraud which is large  enough to show up in the statistics, and allows us to make a conservative initial estimate of ballot box stuffing. We estimate that there were at least 282,000 fake votes for Filipe Nyusi.

We stress that these are only the instances which are immediately obvious in the numbers, and do not minimise other misconduct which also increased the vote for Nyusi. A more detailed and comprehensive report will be issued later in the week, but we publish a rapid estimate here, based on adding three different sources of extra votes: more votes for president than for parliament, districts with impossibly high turnout, and the number of Gaza ghost voters who actually voted.

Extra presidential votes: Our first check is for where there were extra votes in the presidential ballot box, because people put extra votes only there or because rushed polling station staff added votes only for president. Our tables of 138 out of 160 districts show that Filipe Nyusi received 267,000 more votes in the presidential election than Frelimo did in the parliamentary election. But we also note that there were 147,000 more blank and invalid votes in the parliamentary election, suggesting that these people may have voted for president but put a blank or invalid vote in the box for parliament. This leaves 120,000 votes (about 1% of the total) unaccounted for, which we suggest are ballots stuffed (or votes added to) the presidential total, without similarly adding votes for parliament.

Turnout too high: There is only one district with a turnout of less than 30%, the national turnout is about 52%, and voting usually has what is called a "normal distribution" meaning that turnout should show the same distribution above and below 52%. Therefore, any district with a turnout over 75% is suspect. An incredible 19 of out 138 districts have a turnout above 75%, and all of them voted more than 80% for Nyusi.

The eight districts with the highest turnout are the same ones which have shown ballot box stuffing in past elections, 6 in Gaza and 2 in Tete. In Gaza they are Chigubo (97% turnout, 100% for Nyusi), Chicualacuala (96%, 99%), Mabalane (92%, 99%), Mapai (91%, 99%), Guija (90%, 98%) and Massingir (88%, 99%). In Tete the two notorious districts are Zumbo (91% turnout, 89% Nyusi) and Changara (86%, 96%). Others with over 75% turnout include KaNyaka in Maputo city, Funhaloro in Inhambane, Muanza in Sofala, and Tambara in Manica.

If we assume that all the votes over 75% turnout are stuffed ballots for Nyusi, the total is 46,000 stuffed votes.

Gaza ghosts: The next check is on ghost voters in Gaza. We estimate that 235,000 of the ghost voters - extra people registered above the number of voting age adults - were in four districts: Bilene, Chibuto, Chokwe, and Mandlazai. In Chokwe the turnout this year was the same as in 2014, so we assume the same proportion of ghosts voted. But in the other three, turnout was significantly down, so many ghosts did not vote. We estimate that in these four districts 118,000 ghosts voted.

Combining the three sources of stuffed ballot boxes - extra votes for Nyusi in ordinary polling stations, over 75% turnout, and ghost voters in Gaza, we estimate there were at least 282,000 extra votes for Nyusi - 5% of the total vote.

25,000 opposition votes invalidated

Finally, we look at invalid votes. Opposition ballot papers are often spoiled with an extra ink mark or fingerprint to make them invalid. The average percentage of invalid votes in our districts is 3%. So we assume any district with 6% or more invalid votes must have seen significant fraud. Of our 138 districts, 20 have 6% or more invalid votes, going up to 11% in Nacala-a-Velha (Nampula) and N'gauma (Niassa). If we assume invalid votes over 3% in these districts have been stolen from the opposition, the number of stolen votes is 25,000.

Zumbo tension after Renamo murder

Following the murder of a prominent Renamo couple, fear has spread within the local population in Zumbo, Tete, and some are leaving the district for neighbouring Zambia. Others do not sleep at home for fear that something worse will happen, our correspondents report.

Babula Jeque, head of the Renamo Women's League in Tete, and her husband João Fenhane, were murdered on 14 October in Zumbo. Their bullet riddled bodies were only found on Friday 18 October in Mtongue. Family members and Renamo supporters went to the district administrator's residence on Friday night to protest the couple's murder. Police were called and fired three shots in the air to disperse people.

Renamo meeting today

Renamo's Political Commission is meeting this morning (21 Oct) at Indy Village, Maputo, to consider its response to the elections.

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