Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Mozambique on Wednesday
File photo / CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica
Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) announced on Friday that a pilot voter registration exercise will take place between 6 and 30 November.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica said the exercise will cost 18 million meticais (about US$295,000), and will follow all the stages of real voter registration.
The registration will be held in nine districts – Erati, Moma and Memba in the northern province of Nampula, Buzi, Caia and Cheringoma, in the central province of Sofala, and Marracuene, Magude and Moamba, in Maputo province in the south. 58 registration brigades will work in these districts.
The voter rolls resulting from the registration will be put on public display so that the voters can correct the data, and see whether their names have been correctly written. Cuinica claimed that this dummy run will make it possible to avoid any incidents when the real voter registration begins on 1 March next year, ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for October 2018.
It should be noted, however, that there are no municipalities in any of the nine districts chosen, and this pilot registration will take place in overwhelmingly rural areas.
“In the past we never had an opportunity to test our instruments because of the short space of time between the approval of the electoral laws and the start of the election cycle itself”, said Cuinica. “We want to avoid situations that occurred in the past such as incompatibility between computers and printers.”
The pilot project will allow the CNE to test how operational the election software is, and the whole data chain from the registration brigades to the provincial and central processing centres. The voter cards themselves will be improved: they will be made of PVC and will carry bar codes, and clearer photographs of the voters.
But the enormous problem with this pilot scheme is that the voter cards cannot be used for voting in the 2019 general elections.
Cuinica confirmed to AIM that all those who register in November will have to register again in 2019 if they wish to vote in the elections of that year. “This is just a pilot registration to test our own equipment and practices”, he said. “The voter cards issued will have to be discarded”.
The CNE is thus asking tens of thousands of rural voters to walk long distances and stand in queues, perhaps for hours, in order to obtain a card that will be of absolutely no use to them.