Maputo — Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) plans to set up a monitoring and management system, costed at about 81,000 US dollars, for electoral risks which could come from a possible budget deficit, natural disasters, lack of access roads, as well as the terrorism ravaging the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The system is intended to help the electoral bodies face adversities, reduce risks and minimize the damage that may occur during elections, as well as offer fundamental tools to prevent, track, and divert the various forms of risk, according to the CNE chairperson, Carlos Matsinhe.
Speaking during the opening of a Seminar on Electoral Risk Management, held in Maputo on Thursday, Matsinhe said "The technical team involved in drafting the system has to be more creative and proactive in order to foresee and counter the risks that may prevent the holding, in a smooth environment, of the municipal elections scheduled for October 2023 and the general elections of 2024".
Matsinhe recommended that the technical staff be endowed with the necessary means and knowledge to deal with all the possible setbacks concerning implementation of the system.
"This seminar is extremely important for the election management bodies, as it will enable and equip the electoral administration with the necessary capacity to deal with unforeseen and adverse situations, during the holding of the elections", he explained.
For his part, the head of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Miguel de Brito, guaranteed that, with a functional system, it will be possible to monitor and address electoral risks.
"The process will allow, for example, the tracking of flood-prone areas and provide this information to the CNE and its executive body the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) for proper planning", he said.
Regarding the victims of terrorism, Brito explained that the system will help facilitate the location of people displaced from their homes by terrorist raids and measures to be taken for the installation of voter registration posts among them.
"The idea is that. at least for those risks that are predictable, there can be measures to minimize their impact, both for the integrity and the quality of the electoral process", he said.
The system is expected to be up and running by December of this year, and to begin operating in January 2023.
Its costs are minimal compared with overall costs of the municipal and general elections, estimated at 18.7 billion meticais (about 292 million American dollars, at the current exchange rate). The budget for the municipal elections alone is 9.1 billion meticais, of which the CNE so far has only received one billion meticais.
"Everything is being done to ensure that we have the money in time", said Matsinhe, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the seminar. "This is our hope, because the elections must be held. They are in the interest of the entire Mozambican nation, and all its institutions".
The lack of money is making it difficult to install the provincial and district elections commissions, although these have now all been elected.
Much of the funding for Mozambique's previous elections has come from foreign donors such as the European Union. Although the outgoing EU ambassador to Mozambique, Antonio Gaspar, promised that EU support will continue, it is far from clear how much this will amount to, and when it will arrive.
The EU election observers were highly critical of the proven frauds and irregularities that marred the 2019 general elections. Most of the recommendations made by foreign and national observers were ignored by the CNE. The most important of these was to depoliticise the CNE and STAE, but the electoral bodies are still dominated by the three political parties represented in parliament, namely the ruling Frelimo Party, and the opposition Renamo and MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement).