Mozambique Vote 2014
The report highlights the process and historical context of the amendment of the electoral laws, marked by the further politicisation of the electoral bodies.
An analytical report titled “The 2014 General Elections in Mozambique: Analysis of Fundamental Questions” was launched at an elections round-table in Maputo on 7th October, 2014. The paper was commissioned by OSISA and AfRO as part of engagement with elections in Mozambique. The analysis was done by Professor Joao Pereira Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Eduardo Mondlane University, and Ernesto Nhanale of the School of journalism at the same university. The round-table was convened by Centro de Integridade Publica (CIP) and the Civil Society Support Mechanism (MASC).
The report now available on the AfriMAP website in both English and Portuguese, seeks to bring together the various elements that outline the context for the 2014 general election in Mozambique. It highlights the process and historical context of the amendment of the electoral laws, marked by the further politicisation of the electoral bodies. The report describes the socio-economic and political context in which the elections will take place and provides a context for the voter registration process, voter participation and the role of the media in political processes in Mozambique. In addition, the study seeks to analyse the nature of the electoral bodies, and the implications of how they have been formed for the management of the 2014 elections.
The roundtable was attended by over 70 participants from civil society organizations, the National Elections Commission (CNE), development partners and foreign embassies, and long-term observers that are already in the country. Paul Cunica of CNE outlined the state of preparedness of the election management body noting that there will be more than 17000 polling stations. He appealed to contestants to avoid negative messages that were lkely to incite violence.
He was asked to explain the incident of stolen ballot papers destined for Zambezia province. He explained that the stolen ballots had been replaced by new ones and suspects had been arrested. Participants felt that CNE should have taken voters into its confidence by publicly explaining what had transpired with the stolen ballots. The theft of ballot papers underlines serious concern about the security of the ballot materials. Reverend Anastasius Chembeze of the Election Observatory outlined the organization’s plans to observe elections. He said they will be undertaking Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) but will not publicly announce the results since this was CNE’s role. Participants questioned the usefulness of doing PVT if they were not going to release the results.
The Observatory plans to deploy about 2500 observers. Joao Pereira, author of the report, pointed out that stakes in this election were very high because of competition for control of the country’s newly discovered natural resource wealth, mainly coal and natural gas. He also noted that the political dynamics had changed from a two horse race between FRELIMO and RENAMO with the coming on the political scene of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) that was likely to draw voters from urban areas and among young voters. He pointed out that while military hostilities had formally ceased, there was no guarantee that these would not resurface depending on the outcome of the elections. Concerns were also expressed about the potential for electoral fraud and manipulation due to the weakness and politicization of the electoral management system. Bias in favour of media coverage by state media was described as the worst since 1994.
There appears to be surprise about the recent resurgence of Alfonso Dhlakama of RENAMO. In conversations with a number of people who had been observing RENAMO’s campaign, they said Dhlakama was drawing large numbers and was being received as a hero despite having reneged on the peace accord early last year. It is not clear if the large numbers turning up at RENAMO rallies will translate into votes.
They attributed this to the fact that ordinary Mozambicans do believe that an effective opposition to FRELIMO is one that is armed. Dhlakama is also exploiting the concessions that he was able to get from the FRELIMO government that include electoral reforms and promises of military reforms. While FRELIMO is highly unlikely to lose the presidential contest, the legislative contest may be closer than in 2009. What is clear though is that the October 15 election will be a major test for Mozambique’s fragile peace.
About the author(s)
Ozias Tungwarara is the regional manager with the Africa Regional Office of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) network based in Johannesburg.