A bus of the Matola Municipal Public Transport Company (ETM) was held on Tuesday (9 May) by monitors of the opposition parties, in Matola city, with more than 50 Frelimo members on board. They had come from the village of Mahoche, in Tenga locality, in the Pessene administrative post, Moamba district, Maputo province. Mahoche is located 30 km from Matola city.
The bus was caught at the Matola C Primary School, when its passengers were trying to register illegally as voters at that school. Unfortunately for the group, the computer at this registration post was not working. So they were told to go and register at the registration post in Block 22, the nearest to where they were. All the passengers walked towards the recommended post (see photo below). The ETM bus waited for them to register, and would then take them back to Mahoche.
There are two videos, one of the bus and voters (23Mb), and the other of a man admitting he had come from Mahoche. The point of bringing people from outside into the municipality is that people are being registered to vote in the entire district, but only those who register inside the municipality can vote there this year. People must register near where they live, and taking outsiders to register inside the municipality is illegal. Nevertheless, this year for the first time, this has become widespread in the registration.
In Matola, party monitors found the movements of so many people strange. They approached the bus passengers and at the same time contacted the police. Realising that they had been discovered, the 50 or so members of Frelimo scattered through the neighbourhood, but the bus was held back by the Renamo monitors.
The MDM Maputo provincial political delegate, Amável Vera Cruz, said she had received a denunciation that a vehicle would set off from the Pessene area loaded with people who would register in Matola. They went to position themselves after the Tchumene bridge and saw the bus drive past. The bus unloaded the first group in Txumene, then a second group in Malhampsene, and the final group in the area of Matola-C. The group that got off in Malhampsene tried to register in the market of the same name, but ended up not doing so, when they found that they had been discovered.
The police arrived later and went to the two Matola C registration posts, but without first ordering the driver to take the bus to the police station. After working at the two posts, the police returned to the station in the company of the Renamo monitors. But Renamo found that the bus and its driver were not at the station, or at the place where the bus had been held. They had fled, which angered the Renamo monitors. “We were indignant, because without the police, we managed to hold the bus and its driver, but when the police arrived, the bus disappeared”, said Mateus Muchacuarhi.
The police opened a case against the citizens who were going to register. On the same day (9 May), Renamo lodged a complaint with the Matola City branch of STAE, and is waiting for a reply which will be appended to the case it intends to remit to the court.
None of the 50 or so bus passengers managed to register at either of the two posts, but Renamo suspects that they might have gone to other posts, such as the posts at the Teacher Training Centre, Língamo, Trevo or even 30 January.
Furthermore, the registration post at the Teacher Training Centre frustrated an attempt to register five people who do not live near those registration posts. It was recommended that the individuals should return to the registration post, accompanied by the neighbourhood secretary.