Mozambique News Agency

No.171, 10th December 1999


Mozambican elections declared a success

Domestic and international observers have praised Mozambique's general elections as being free and fair, and for having overcome serious obstacles. The elections were due to take place on 3 and 4 December, but owing to heavy rain in some parts of the country, voting was extended for a third day. The turnout was high - between 70 and 80 percent of those registered voted. Due to the need for a high level of transparency, counting the votes has been a very slow process, which will only be completed once the preliminary results have been tallied and once any borderline invalid votes have been scrutinised.

The National Elections Commission (CNE) announced on 4 December that voting would be extended for a third day as sixty nine polling stations were unable to open during the first two days in Zambezia province.

A statement read out by CNE chairman Jamisse Taimo declared that the CNE would meet "the legitimate expectations" of registered voters who had not yet been able to exercise their right to vote because rains and difficulties of access had made it impossible to open their polling stations on time.

The extension covers the entire country because there is no provision in the electoral law for a partial extension.

In the end only 11 polling stations in Zambezia province failed to open. The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) general director Antonio Carrasco said that it proved impossible to transport polling station staff and election materials to three polling stations in Lugela district, and to eight in Mopeia district.

Helicopters had been brought down from provinces further north to airlift staff and materials to the polling stations in trouble. But in mid-morning on 5 December stocks of fuel ran out at the airport in the provincial capital Quelimane, and the helicopters were grounded.

Carrasco said that the failure to open these 11 stations meant that 8,003 voters lost their right to vote, out of a total of over 1.3 million voters in Zambezia. Everywhere else in the country, Carrasco guaranteed, all polling stations did open. Taking the country as a whole, the number of voters disenfranchised is 0.11 per cent of the total.

Carrasco also explained the mechanism of the "special bonus" allotted to polling station staff for the third day of polling. Under contracts signed with STAE, each polling station chairman was to receive 600,000 meticais ($45), each deputy chairman 500,000 meticais, and each of the other three staff members at each station, 350,000 meticais.

The "special bonus" pushes these payments up to 750,000 meticais for chairmen, 600,000 for deputy chairmen and 392,000 meticais for everyone else.

Election results as of 9 December

In the parallel count of the election results that AIM is attempting to maintain, the incumbent president, Joaquim Chissano, and the ruling Frelimo Party continue to hold a very substantial lead over their rivals, Renamo, and its leader and presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama.

However, there are still few results from Dhlakama's home province, Sofala, or from the second largest province - Zambezia, both of which voted heavily for Renamo in the last elections in 1994. As more results from Sofala and Zambezia come in, so the vote for Dhlakama and for Renamo is bound to rise dramatically.

On the morning of 9 December, information had reached AIM from 1,824 polling stations (about 21 per cent of the total), giving preliminary results. These results are as follows:

Presidential election

Joaquim Chissano 712,321
Afonso Dhlakama 397,333

Parliamentary election

Frelimo 643,040
Renamo 315,525

Of these polling stations, 120 are in Maputo City, 87 in Maputo Province, 367 in Gaza, 107 in Inhambane, 59 in Sofala, 246 in Manica, 184 in Tete, 87 in Zambezia, 382 in Nampula, 113 in Cabo Delgado, and 72 in Niassa.

On this count, Dhlakama and Renamo are now ahead in three provinces, namely Sofala, Zambezia and Manica, all in the centre of the country. Chissano/Frelimo and Dhlakama/Renamo are running more or less neck and neck in the western province of Tete and the northernmost province of Niassa, while Chissano and Frelimo lead in the remaining six provinces (Maputo City, Maputo Province, Gaza, Inhambane, Nampula and Cabo Delgado).

All these numbers are preliminary and unofficial. They come from the polling station notices affixed to the walls of polling stations after the end of the count, and have yet to be confirmed by the National Elections Commission (CNE).

The notices have been collected by the press, most notably by Radio Mozambique, but also by reporters from AIM and from the newspapers Noticias, Metical and Mediafax. The results given above are a compilation from all these various press sources.

EU provide extra funds

The European Union has announced that it has made more than $500,000 available in response to a request from the Mozambican government to cover the costs involved in extending the general elections by a day longer than originally planned.

The greater part of this money goes towards paying a "special bonus" to tens of thousands of polling station staff, who had to work all day on 5 December as well as on 3 and 4 December. In total this amounts to about $350,000.

Additional costs, mainly involved with transport (including car hire and fuel), come to about $200,000.

This assistance comes on top of $18 million which the European Union had already provided to finance the voter registration (which took place from July to September) and the elections themselves.

Commonwealth observers declare elections "free and fair"

The Commonwealth Observer Group has expressed satisfaction at the way in which the elections were carried out. The group says that "we leave Mozambique in the knowledge that we have witnessed a process that is intrinsically democratic".

The observers added that "We were charged to form a judgement as to whether, in our independent view, the conditions existed for a free expression of will be the electors. We have no hesitation in saying that this was the case".

The group praises the National Elections Commission (CNE) for the way in which it set up the machinery and implemented the electoral process, despite the "deep mistrust which had existed in the past between the major political parties".

The mission also expressed satisfaction with the massive turnout of the electorate, saying that this "demonstrated their determination to take control of their destiny".

EU welcomes smooth running elections

Pertti Paasio, the chief of the European Union Joint Observer Mission (EU JOM) of international observers, on 6 December stated that the mission has reported that the general elections had run smoothly.

The 64 EU observers managed to visit 750 polling stations, nine per cent of the total, in 34 districts spread across the country. They reported very few problems or breaches of the electoral rules, and none of those was having any impact on the results.

Paasio praised the performance of the electoral bodies, the behaviour of the voters, and the work of the polling station staff.

He felt that the counting procedures and the often difficult conditions under which the count takes place make for rather a slow process.

In all the polling stations visited, monitors from the competing parties were always present, mainly from the two major parties, Frelimo and Renamo, but not always from both of them.

Because the turn-out was reported to be between 75 to 80 per cent, Paasio thought that the elections had shown a strong example of commitment to democracy.

The EU observers found that the provisional results indicated that about two per cent of the votes cast were invalid. "If this figure were sustained, then about, 150,000 ballots will have to be reconsidered at central level, by the CNE (National Electoral Commission). On the other hand, we have only had a couple of reports of contested votes so far, a sign of efficiency and cooperation among staff and contenders in the polling stations", he said. (A contested vote is generally one which polling station staff declare invalid, but which a monitor argues was meant for his party or candidate.)

As regards Renamo claims that fraud is being prepared, the EU said it has "invited them to share documentary evidence with us. Only then may we be in a position to pronounce ourselves on that".

Paasio said that the EU was concerned about the "unclear" situation in three districts in the western province of Tete where Renamo has threatened not to recognise the outcome of the elections.

Renamo demanded a postponement of the elections in Changara, Cahora Bassa and Magoe districts, claiming that Frelimo supporters prevented them from campaigning in those districts. Frelimo denies the charges, and says that violence here was started by Renamo.

However, because the EU observers had not been present in these three districts, there was little they could say.

The EU also commended the participation of national observers who covered a high number of polling stations. In future, such observation by Mozambicans will reduce the role of, and need for, foreign observers.

Jimmy Carter praises elections

So far, the electoral process has been "overwhelmingly free and fair", former United States President Jimmy Carter declared in Maputo on 6 December.

The NGO set up by Carter, the Carter Centre, had an observation mission during the general elections, consisting of 50 people from 16 different countries, and led by Carter himself, and the former President of Botswana, Quett Masire.

The Carter Centre's observers visited about 650 polling stations in all 11 of the country's provincial constituencies.

Carter said that, whereas the 1994 elections had been largely organised by the United Nations, "this time it's a successful product of the people of this country".

He regarded the conduct both of the voter registration in the July-September period, and now the elections themselves, as "highly successful".

The Carter Centre estimated voter turnout at over 70 per cent, with rates of 80 per cent in some polling stations.

Carter said the observers were impressed by "the large number of women polling staff, and of women voters", and noted that "quite often the polling station chairperson was a woman".

Renamo monitors assault reporters

About 100 Renamo polling station monitors assaulted two reporters from the Maputo daily paper Noticias, on 8 December, in front of the residence of Afonso Dhlakama.

The two reporters, Salomao Muiambo and Amadeu Marrengula, were on duty covering a demonstration of the polling station monitors, who were demanding that Renamo pay them for the work they did for the party during the general elections.

Similar demonstrations by Renamo monitors are reported from several other parts of the country. The Renamo leadership claims that it was made clear to monitors from the outset that the work was voluntary.

In Maputo the demonstration turned ugly, when the monitors attacked the "Noticias" reporters. They threatened to kill them, because they worked for "a newspaper that doesn't tell the truth".

Dispute over counting in Zambezia

A dispute over the computerised tabulation of election results in the central province of Zambezia on 9 December led to the resignation of one of the two deputy directors of the provincial branch of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).

Each provincial STAE has two deputy directors who are political nominees.

The Renamo deputy director in Zambezia, Antonio Goncalves said that Renamo was "withdrawing from the electoral process in the province". He added that he was returning his key to the STAE warehouse. (The provincial warehouses containing electoral materials each have three padlocks, and the keys are in the possession of the director and deputy directors of the provincial STAE. None of these officials can open the warehouse without the cooperation of the other two.)

The immediate issue that sparked Goncalves' resignation was the question of access by political parties to the operations room where the results from polling stations are being fed into computers.

On 9 December a group of about 15 members of the Renamo electoral union appeared at the STAE offices in Quelimane and demanded access to the operations room.

They were told that monitors, and all interested parties, could follow the vote tabulation on a separate computer. This was insufficient and they demanded entry into the operations room. The STAE officials said they had no power to authorise this entry.

The Renamo members then simply forced their way into the operations room, and the police were called in to remove them.

The police subsequently detained Jose Manteigas, a Renamo deputy in the outgoing parliament, and Manecas Daniel, leader of the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), one of Renamo's allies in the "Electoral Union". They were accused of leading the morning disturbances.

Goncalves told the Radio this was not his only reason for resigning. He claimed that in Zambezia the Renamo staff working in STAE had been "completely blocked" at every stage.

When Radio Mozambique contacted STAE general director Antonio Carrasco in Maputo for his reaction, he said he was saddened by Renamo's attitude.

He insisted that the vote tabulation is a completely transparent process, and those interested are allowed to call up the results on a computer screen available for precisely that purpose.

"Let STAE work", he exclaimed in exasperation. "The politicians can do their politics, but let STAE work".

He added that the two national deputy directors of STAE, one a Frelimo appointee, and the other from Renamo, are currently on their way to Zambezia to sort the problem out.

Meanwhile, a Renamo polling station monitor in the Zambezia district of Inhassunge has been accused of attempted electoral fraud, and is currently in police custody. According to Radio Mozambique, he was surprised by the polling station chairman when he tried to slip extra ballot papers (four presidential papers marked for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and two parliamentary papers marked for Renamo) into the ballot boxes.

Computer vote tabulation

The computerised tabulation of the votes cast in the presidential and parliamentary elections began on 8 December The physical counting of the votes took place at the polling stations on 5 December, and then the polling station notices will be tabulated.

The CNE's system will consist of two separate networks handling the same data, to minimise the possibility of error. The chairman of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Jamisse Taimo has guaranteed that journalists, and other members of the public, would be able to consult the data in the system.

The provincial results should be published by 12 December, and the final, definitive national results by 19 December. However, since the elections took three days, rather than the two originally planned, it is likely that these publication dates will become 13 and 20 December.

The main problem the electoral bodies face now is collecting all the polling station notices from stations in remote parts of the country, some of which can only be reached by air. Even in the cases of those that can be reached by road, the provincial and district electoral bodies complain that they do not have enough vehicles.

Taimo also confirmed that he has received a letter from the Nampula Provincial Elections Commission complaining that the main opposition party, Renamo, had provided its polling station monitors with "false polling station notices", which they then obliged the station chairmen to sign. Taimo described this as "inadmissible".

Renamo has protested that it simply photocopied blank polling station notices and distributed them to its monitors to help them collect the data. (AIM understands that, in some areas, Renamo took the sensible precaution of removing the official CNE logotype from these photocopies. But elsewhere, the Renamo polling station notices look identical to the official CNE ones.)

For Taimo the problem was not the photocopies in themselves, but the fact that Renamo obliged polling station staff to sign them.

Delays likely in Zambezia results

The crash of a helicopter carrying election materials in the central province of Zambezia will delay the tabulation of that province's election results, warned Antonio Carrasco, general director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), at a Maputo press conference on 6 December.

The helicopter, hired from a private company, crashed on 6 December on take-off at Luabo, on the north bank of the Zambezi. Carrasco said an inquiry into the accident would be held. According to Radio Mozambique, the helicopter came to grief when one of its rotor blades hit a branch of a tree).

Four people were injured, said Carrasco, but they were promptly rescued, "and are now safe and sound in Beira".

The company that owns the helicopter must, under its contract with STAE, supply a replacement within 72 hours, but even so there will certainly be a delay in collecting materials from other remote parts of Zambezia.

Carrasco stressed that the Luabo election materials (the polling station notice giving the Luabo results, and any invalid or contested ballot papers) were recovered from the crash.

He said STAE has raised the need for more logistic support in Zambezia with the government, and with donors, particularly the European Union.

Vieira replies to allegations

Sergio Vieira, rapporteur for the ruling Frelimo Party in the outgoing Mozambican parliament, has refuted claims by Renamo that he orchestrated violence that prevented Renamo members from undertaking election campaign activities in Changara, Cahora Bassa and Magoe districts in the western province of Tete.

In a letter published in Noticias on 8 December, Vieira says his only intervention in Changara was to help rescue Renamo supporters who were in danger of being lynched.

Vieira, who was one of the organisers of the Frelimo campaign in Tete, backed up the version of events given on 6 December by the head of the Frelimo election office, Mariano Matsinha, who said the Changara violence was started by Renamo.

According to Vieira, Renamo brought people into the Changara district capital, Luenha, from 200 kilometres away. They were armed with machetes, knives and clubs, which the police eventually confiscated from them.

Vieira said that the only people wounded in the Changara clash were Frelimo members and sympathisers.

When an angry crowd turned against the Renamo gang, they took refuge in the local police station. Some policemen, said Vieira, suffered slight injuries in protecting the Renamo group from the crowd.

"My only intervention took place during the night, when the angry population had surrounded the police station", wrote Vieira. "I helped hire a truck and pay for the fuel to evacuate the Renamo members who were under siege and thus avoid a lynching".

As for Cahora Bassa, Vieira said he visited its capital, Songo, almost at the end of the campaign, "weeks after the alleged incidents". Furthermore, a Renamo parliamentary candidate who lives in Songo, Virginia Guerreiro, told reporters that she had been able to campaign freely.

Vieira could have had nothing to do with any violence in Magoe, since "I have not visited Magoe for several years".

Dhlakama claims fraud

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, claimed at a Maputo press conference on 5 December that there is a "possibility" that electoral fraud is being prepared.

He repeated a claim made by Renamo spokesmen the previous day that fraudulent ballot boxes might be switched for the real ones in Nampula, Zambezia and Manica provinces. He presented no evidence for this.

Renamo has given the numbers of these phoney boxes - but the numbers are not the kind of codes used by STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat). The STAE system is simple - the ballot boxes have the same number as the electoral register in the polling station concerned. The numbers announced by Renamo bear no relation to the numbering system used for electoral registers.

Furthermore, each ballot box is sealed. The seals were put onto the empty ballot boxes before voting started, and broken at the end of polling when the count begins. On each occasion the polling station staff read out the numbers of the seals. Any discrepancy in the numbers would show that the ballot boxes had been tampered with.

So it would not be enough to switch ballot boxes. Any would-be fraudster would also have to supply seals with exactly the same numbers as those on the genuine ballot box.

Asked about the latest Renamo claims, Jamisse Taimo, chairman of the National Elections Commission (CNE), the body in overall charge of the elections, told reporters that so far the CNE had received no formal complaint from Renamo about fraudulent ballot boxes.

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