Mozambique: Frelimo Wins in Dhlakama's Home District

Mozambique ruling party Frelimo supporters (file photo).

Maputo — Mozambique's incumbent president Filipe Nyusi and the ruling Frelimo Party won an overwhelming victory in last Tuesday's general and provincial elections in Chibabava, the home district of the late Afonso Dhlakama, the man who led the former rebel movement Renamo from 1979 until his death from diabetes in May 2018.

Dhlakama's aged father remains a "regulo" (chief) in the Mangunde area of Chibabava. Yet despite the area's strong ties to Renamo and the Dhlakama family, Frelimo took over 80 per cent of the votes in the district. The results for the three elections (presidential, parliamentary and for the provincial assembly), as given on the results sheets ("editais") published by the coalition of election observer bodies known as the "Sala da Paz" ("Peace Room"), are as follows:

Presidential election

Filipe Nyusi (Frelimo) 14,676 (83.23 per cent)

Daviz Simango (MDM) 309 (1.75 per cent)

Ossufo Momade (Renamo) 2,571 (14.58 per cent)

Parliamentary election

Frelimo 14,057 (80.96 per cent)

MDM 305 (1.76 per cent)

Renamo 2,826 (16.28 per cent)

Provincial assembly election

Frelimo 14,199 (80.36 per cent)

MDM 298 (1.69 per cent)

Renamo 3,069 (17.37 per cent)

These figures omit minor parties and candidates.

Turnout in Chibabava, which is in the central province of Sofala, was about 52 per cent, which is average for these elections.

One anomaly on these results sheets was a suspiciously large number of invalid votes - over eight per cent in all three elections. In any polling station, it is normal for two or three per cent of the votes to be invalid - the result of genuine mistakes by voters or voter protests (such as scrawling insults on the ballot paper).

But when the number goes above five per cent, suspicions should be roused, since these votes are likely to have been invalidated by dishonest polling station staff adding an extra ink mark to make it look as if the voter has tried to vote for more than one candidate.

But there are nowhere near enough invalid votes to query the Frelimo landslide in Chibabava. One possible explanation is that voters who were once loyal to Dhlakama have deserted Renamo in protest against the change in the Renamo leadership.

Under the new leader, Ossufo Momade, Renamo's focus has clearly switched away from Sofala to Momade's home province of Nampula in the north.

Furthermore, a Sofala-based breakaway, calling itself the "Renamo Military Junta", has emerged, claiming loyalty to the memory of Dhlakama, and denouncing Momade as "a traitor".

Divided parties are never attractive to voters, and Renamo may have paid a heavy price for its divisions.

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