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File photo / When one reporter noted that the newssheet “Mediafax” had visited several of the polling areas on Thursday and had found no registers, Cuinica said that was because they were still being placed. Not every area received its register at the same time.
Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) on Friday blamed “technical mistakes” in transcribing data from computer hard drives to flash drives for the error-ridden versions of the Nampula municipality electoral registers sent to the political parties competing in the mayoral by-election scheduled for 24 January.
The registers sent to the parties should be exactly the same as the registers used in the 2014 general election in Nampula, since there has been no further voter registration since then. But opposition parties complained loudly when they found that the registers sent to them contained gross errors and inconsistencies.
At a Maputo press conference on Friday, CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica said that each of the parties contesting the by-election had been sent a flash drive containing the electoral registers for Nampula, polling area by polling area.
But it was found that some of the files on the drives would not open, and that some, when opened, were found to contain no data. In addition many of the files were duplications. Most people who have ever transferred material from one drive to another would describe such an accumulation of blunders as gross incompetence, but Cuinica preferred the milder term “technical mistakes”.
He said the CNE had now corrected the errors and as from Thursday had been placing physical copies of the registers in each of the polling areas (mostly schools, and each of them containing several polling stations). When one reporter noted that the newssheet “Mediafax” had visited several of the polling areas on Thursday and had found no registers, Cuinica said that was because they were still being placed. Not every area received its register at the same time.
He guaranteed that all the polling areas had now received the registers. The latest information from Nampula, he added, was that large numbers of voters were consulting the registers, to check that their names were there. The registers will be on public display from 08.00 to 16.00 every day until 21 January (three days before the election).
Another set of flash drives, this time checked so that they contain the correct data, is being distributed, and Cuinica said they should be in the hands of the political parties by Monday.
Cuinica stressed that anybody whose name is on the register can vote, even if they have lost their polling cards. All that is needed is another official identification document, as long as it contains a photograph of the bearer.
“On polling day, nobody should stay at home, with or without a voter card, just as long as their name is on the register”, said Cuinica.
Asked about reports on social media that officials of the ruling Frelimo Party have been collecting voter cards from workers in the public administration, in order to prevent them from voting, Cuinica said this report has not reached the CNE.
Even if this were true, it would not work since voter cards, while convenient, are not strictly necessary for citizens to vote.
Cuinica said that so far the election campaign has been peaceful and orderly. He called on political parties not to use state assets (such as vehicles) during their campaigning, and not to deface the propaganda material of competing parties.
There are five candidates in the by-election. They include the three main parties – Frelimo, the rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which won the municipal elections in 2013.
This raises the very real possibility that no-one will achieve over 50 per cent of the vote on 24 January, which would force a second round between the two candidates with the most votes. Cuinica said the CNE is aware of this possibility, and pledged that “if necessary, a second round will be held”.Source: AIM
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