Municipal elections will be swamped by voters from outside the municipality in Zambézia province, which could affect the outcomes in Alto Molocue and Gurue which were subject to serious fraud in the last elections in 2018 and in Mocumba and Maganja da Costa where Frelimo won by just a few hundred votes in 2018.
There are also major discrepancies in registration between STAEs at national and provincial level.
This comes on top of fewer registration brigades were used in Zambezia, in an attempt to reduce opposition registration as well as intentional registration machine breakdowns when opposition voters were trying to register. In many areas there were reports of long queues and people unable to register.
Thousands crossing the boundary
As part of obtaining their job, civil servants are expected to support and vote for the ruling party, Frelimo, and there are verified reports of Frelimo bringing teachers from schools outside the municipality to register inside. In some cases they did not even have to appear, and lists were sent. In Morrumbala 40 teachers resident outside the boundary are being prosecuted for registering illegally inside the municipality. This could add many hundreds of votes for Frelimo in towns where the difference between Frelimo and the opposition was small in the 2018 municipal election. For example, in Mocumba, Frelimo had only 240 more votes that the opposition in 2018.
Only people living in, and registered in, the municipality can vote in the 11 October municipal election. But the registration takes place in the entire district which contains a municipality. The law says a person must register at the post nearest their home, usually a school, but there were verified reports of parties bringing supporters from the district but outside the municipal boundary to register within the municipality.
Registration data shows this is clearly happening in Zambézia. The National Statistics Institute says there are 357,211 voting age adults in the seven municipalities, but 406,716 registered – 114% of the possible number. Where did the extra adults come from? But if we look at those seven entire districts, including the municipalities, turnout was only 88%, which is normal for Mozambican elections. Looking more closely we estimate that a huge number, 90,000 or more, people crossed the boundary – physically or on lists – to register inside the municipality.
The table below shows the registration in the municipality (upper table) and in the entire district including the municipality (lower table), as reported by Zambézia provincial STAE on 14 June. We then assume that the number of voters in the municipality who actually live there is the same percentage who registered in the entire district, and the rest must be from outside. For example, for Gurue we estimate that the real registration inside the municipality is 35,532 and thus 35,980 people from outside are also on the municipal roll – more than half the electorate.
Using this method, we estimate that 90,661 people from outside municipalities registered inside – almost one quarter of the entire municipal electorate.
Not all of the extra voters simply come for outside the municipality. In Maganja da Costa more than 20,000 extra voters registered in the entire district, so there are other forms of false registration there.
Some of these extra voters from outside the municipality will submit ballots in person, especially if they live near the municipality. But most will be used for ballot box stuffing – Frelimo keeps lists of numbers and sometimes the actual voters cards. On polling day in the afternoon when no one is watching a Frelimo aligned polling station staff member ticks off anyone on the lists who had not voted, and then adds that many votes for Frelimo – either physically putting ballot papers in the box, or more normally changing the final results sheet (edital) to add that many votes for Frelimo.
Alto Molocue and Gurue were dirty battles in 2018
Two municipalities, Alto Molocué and Gurué, which were subject of very dirty fights in the previous election in 2018, are were also subject to improper actions in this registration.
In Alto Molocué STAE own provisional count in 2018 showed Renamo 51%, MDM 5% and Frelimo 44%, and this was confirmed by an EISA parallel count. But the district election commission held a secret meeting excluding opposition observers and officials, which then gave Frelimo a narrow victory of 48%, Renamo 47% and MDM 5%.
Renamo head Ossufo Momade made a formal complaint about the secret recount. He also said police fired shots into the air, and in the confusion polling stations heads and police at two polling stations stole the results sheets, which were subsequently falsified. One was at Pista Velha primary school. Momade further claimed that when the Renamo-named STAE deputy director protested, he was arrested. Further, Renamo-named STAE technicians were excluded from the intermediate count.
Pista Velha school has been a centre of problems this year as well, and for two weeks supposed opposition voters were not allowed to register because priority was given to the public employees, members of party cells and their friends. (See Bulletins 67, 77)
In rejecting Renamo’s Alto Molocué complaint, the Constitutional Council on 2 November 2018 confirmed that the Frelimo majority on a district elections commission can illegally exclude opposition-nominated members of the commission and opposition party agents, because they have no way to complain, because the complaint must be made at the meeting from which they are excluded.
Even in the strange recount, Frelimo had 802 fewer votes than the opposition, but in reality it had more than 1800 fewer than the opposition. But our calculation suggests Frelimo has recruited more than 6000 extra voters, registered inside the municipality but living outside. That should be enough to swing the election.
In Gurué the problems are old. In 2013 misconduct was so serious that the Gurué election had to be rerun. This year secret printing of voters cards was found, and a party monitor who revealed the misconduct was detained for five days. This year’s election is looking just a fraudulent, with 41,163 extra voters in Gurué, more than half of the voters roll.
In the 2018 election the Bulletin did a special report on all Gurué polling stations, and we found possible misconduct in 41 of 67 polling stations. This election was between Frelimo and MDM and both were involved in fraud and misconduct, including ballot box stuffing and falsely declaring votes for the other side as invalid. The official 2018 result gave Frelimo 626 more votes than the opposition, but there is no way of knowing the real result. https://bit.ly/Gurue-2018.
But the battles did not end with the announcement of Frelimo and its candidate as winners. In 2019, on the eve of the second attempt to approve the municipality’s activity plan and budget, unknown individuals violently assaulted the MDM political delegate and vice-president of the Alto Molócuè Municipal Assembly, André Txetxema, leading him to be hospitalised for many months in Nampula. Txetxema, who had been decisive in the session that rejected the activity plan and budget of the Frelimo-run municipality, ended up suspending his mandate because of the fractures in his upper and lower limbs. If the activity plan and budget had been defeated a second time, the Alto Molocue municipal assembly would have been dissolved, forcing mid-term elections, which Frelimo wanted to avoid.
In other municipalities, the race is likely to be close, as the results of 2018 show
Provincial and national numbers far apart
National STAE issued its registration figures on 4 June, the day after registration closed. Zambézia STAE issued its figures on 14 June, with many differences. It is possible that more data came in from remote registration posts, causing come changes, and accounts for the very large increase in district voters of 67,012.
But the big differences in municipalities seems surprising as there should have been no late reporting. Zambezia reports 4272 more voters in Quelimane than does national STAE; 8,131 fewer in Morrumbala, eliminating one quarter of the entire voters roll; and 7756 extra in Gurué. (CIP)