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Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) on Thursday approved the results of the municipal election in the central town of Marromeu, despite the glaring illegalities that occurred a week ago when the election was rerun at eight of the 39 polling stations.
The municipal elections were held on 10 October in all 53 Mozambican municipalities and on 14 November the Constitutional Council, Mozambique’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law validated the results in 52 municipalities – but it threw out the Marromeu result because of “serious irregularities which called into question the freedom, justice and transparency of the elections” at eight polling stations.
But the rerun election, held a week ago, was marred by the same illegal behaviour by polling station staff (MMVs) and police. When it became clear that the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, had won by a substantial margin, the MMVs illegally expelled accredited journalists and observers from the polling stations.
The police removed the ballot papers and other election materials, and, again in clear violation of the law, results sheets were not posted at the stations, and copies of the results sheets were not given to political party monitors, observers or journalists.
But the police and MMVs were too late: by the time the observers were thrown out they had already taken note of the real results.
The result announced by CNE chairperson Abdul Carimo was for the whole municipality, not just the eight polling stations.
The CNE results were:
Number of votes cast: 19,559
Number of valid votes: 18,338
Frelimo: 8,395 (45.78 per cent)
Renamo: 8,349 (45.53 per cent)
MDM: 1,594 (8.69 per cent)
To reach this total, the CNE had no option but to throw out the most obviously fraudulent of the results sheets from the eight polling stations in the rerun election. This station, with the code number 07127-03, contained 800 registered voters, but there were supposedly 811 votes in the ballot boxes. The results sheet “could not be processed”, said Carimo.
Whoever wrote this fake result forgot that the computers cannot be tricked. The software used to tabulate election results will not accept mathematical absurdities, such as more votes than registered voters.
The votes rejected when this results sheet was thrown out were 590 for Frelimo, 200 for Renamo, and 21 for the MDM.
Carimo said that other “mistakes” on the results sheets had been corrected, but did not go into specifics.
However, it can be calculated, from the figures released last Friday by the Marromeu District Election Commission (CDE), that the results from the 31 polling stations where the election was not rerun were as follows:
Number of valid votes: 13,993
Renamo: 7,259 (51.81 per cent)
Frelimo: 5,366 (38.13 per cent)
MDM: 1,398 (9.9 per cent)
Subtracting this from the result announced by the CNE gives the following figures for the seven rerun polling stations where the results were accepted.
Number of valid votes: 4,395
What is clear is that the Frelimo victory is the product of the results sheets from the stations where the election was re-run on 22 November.
The results which the observers counted, before the election materials were seized by the police, showed a clear Renamo victory in the eight polling stations. Those results were:
Votes cast: 2,924
Renamo: 1,798 (67.5 per cent of valid votes)
Frelimo: 791 (29.7 per cent)
MDM: 74 (2.8 per cent).
The announcement made by Carimo contained one particularly grotesque falsehood. He said that the count at the polling stations began immediately after the close of polls. But anyone who watched the television coverage on the night of 22 November knew this was not true. The cameras showed that the polling stations were deserted at 20.00.
Instead of immediately starting the count, as the law demands, the MMVs had gone to have something to eat. This should have raised a red flag immediately: what were the MMVs discussing in the period between the close of polls and the start of the count, and out of earshot of any observers or journalists?
The count only got under way at about 20.30, after AIM and other media had phoned the Maputo headquarters of STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat) to ask what was going on.
The elimination of the completely fraudulent result from station 07127-03 deprived Frelimo of what would otherwise have been an absolute majority in the Marromeu Municipal Assembly. With Frelimo and Renamo almost tied in the official results, the new Municipal Assembly will consist of eight Frelimo members, eight from Renamo and one from the MDM.
In other words, Frelimo will not be able to pass anything through the Assembly without the consent of at least the sole MDM member.