Maputo — Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) is dependent on foreign donors, known tactfully as "cooperation partners" to produce the funding required to prepare the 2023 municipal and 2024 general elections.
At a Tuesday meeting with representatives of the country's political parties, the CNE chairperson, Carlos Matsinhe, said the preparatory work for the elections is budgeted at 3.2 billion meticais (about 50 million US dollars).
To date, the CNE has only managed to raise one billion meticais, leaving a deficit of 2.2 billion. The money is needed to instal the provincial and district elections commissions, to train their staff, and pay for the logistics of voter registration.
According to a report in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Matsinhe said the CNE "is working with the cooperation partners to find a way of overcoming the deficit".
The total cost of the 2022-2025 electoral cycle, he said, is 18.7 billion meticais - 3.2 billion for preparations his year, 6.7 billion for 2023, the year of the municipal elections, and 8.7 billion for the general elections of 2024.
Matsinhe admitted that the donors are faced with demands from other parts of the world, notably those arising from Russian aggression against Ukraine. This affected the way donors looked at the financing needs of Africa, and of Mozambique in particular.
"We have to be very aware of this, but everything is being done to ensure that the elections are held in a decent context", he added.
Matsinhe said the Covid-19 pandemic had complicated the acquisition of election equipment and materials. More than 90 per cent of these goods are ordered from abroad, and the disruption caused by Covid-19 means that they must be ordered well in advance.
"We must acquire material for the pilot voter registration this year, so that next year all possible errors are corrected", said Matsinhe.
The voter registration ahead of the municipal elections should be held in the first quarter of the 2023. The government will fix the exact date, after consultation with the CNE.
Problems with finance for the elections were obvious well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mozambique had been politely warned that it could not expect donors to fund its elections into the indefinite future.
The CNE has been dependent on foreign funding ever since the first post-war elections of 1994. Suggestions, from both national and international election observer groups, to reduce the size of the CNE and of the district and provincial commissions, have been ignored.
Mozambican politicians have also ignored the repeated calls to depoliticise the electoral bodies. The three parliamentary political parties (the ruling Frelimo party, and the two opposition forces, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM) dominate the electoral apparatus, including the CNE's executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).
There are thousands of political appointees in the election commissions and at all levels of STAE (national, provincial and district). This produces a top-heavy, inefficient and expensive apparatus, but nobody has tried to change the system since 2014.