Mozambique: Stae Promises Disciplinary Measures Against Those Who Violated Election Law

Maputo — Mozambique's Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) has ordered a survey of all cases of proven election offences committed during the municipal elections held on 11 October, according to a report carried by the independent television station, STV.

An instruction issued by the office of the STAE General Director, Lolo Correia, dated 29 November, demands the names of all officials involved in violations of the electoral legislation, so that disciplinary measures can be taken against them.

The disciplinary measures could include expulsion of the culprits from the public administration.

Correia's office wanted to know the names and functions of anyone accused of involvement in electoral fraud. This would include members of the provincial and district branches of STAE, and the chairpersons and other members of staff at polling stations where fraud was detected

This instruction went to STAE branches across the country. It demanded that the information requested should be sent to the STAE general management by 30 November. It is not yet clear how many STAE branches met this tight deadline.

STAE spokesperson Regina Matsinhe told STV that the measure was taken after the Constitutional Council, the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, had confirmed that electoral crimes had indeed been committed during the October elections.

Even before the Council had ruled on the elections, the National Elections Commission (CNE) had promised that it would be implacable towards any election officials involved in criminal activities.

But so far no information has been published about any election staff sacked or otherwise punished for their role in the October frauds.

The CNE and STAE can take disciplinary measures against staff caught acting illegally, but cannot initiate criminal proceedings. Those are the responsibility of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Observer groups have warned that, unless measures are taken quickly, the repeat elections, due to be held on 10 December in four municipalities (Marromeu, Nacala, Gurue and Milange), might be handled by exactly the same officials who had committed fraud in October.

The "Mais Integrity' ("More Integrity') electoral observation coalition pointed out that the crimes which led the Constitutional Council to annul the elections in the four municipalities were only possible with the involvement of polling station chairpersons, members of the district elections commissions, and local officials of STAE.

The coalition said it made no sense to entrust the repeat elections to the same people, when they had failed to comply with their obligations during the first elections.

Yet in one case that has achieved notoriety, an official who blatantly violated the election law has not been punished, but has been promoted.

Juedinaldo Costa was chairperson of a polling station in Quelimane, capital of the central province of Zambezia, on 11 October.

In blatant violation of the law, he refused to sign the results sheet ("edital') of his polling station. Angry voters tried to force him to sign, chasing him into the yard. Police fired into the air to restore order. These scenes were caught on camera.

No measures were taken against Costa, and last week he was appointed STAE director in the Zambezia district of Namarroi.

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