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A journalist in the western province of Tete has gone into hiding after receiving kidnap threats, according to a statement issued today by the Mozambican branch of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa).
The journalist is Aparicio Jose de Nascimento, editor of the weekly paper “Malacha”, published in the Tete mining town of Moatize.
Nascimento told MISA-Mozambique that he has been receiving threats ever since the morning of 11 October, when he published the results of the municipal election in Moatize on the “Malacha” website.
The election was held on Wednesday, and after the close of polls Nascmento simply collected all the information from the results sheets of the 49 Moatize polling stations and published it. The results sheets are entirely public, so there is nothing criminal or improper about releasing the information they contain.
The Moatize results, as given by “Malacha”, showed the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, defeating the ruling Frelimo Party by about 1,300 votes. The results published by “Malacha” were as follows:
Total number of valid votes: 21,501
After he had published the results, Nascimento heard reports that plans were afoot to kidnap him, since the results were not to the liking of some powerful people.
Also on 11 October, “Malacha” published a report that voting kits had been abandoned and vandalised. The paper accused the Moatize director and head of operations of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) of this crime. A video published by “Malacha” showed these two officials being surprised in the act of violating the voting kits by the STAE district deputy director, accompanied by police officers.
That afternoon the violated voting kits were still abandoned in a truck outside a Moatize primary school. If the purpose of violating the kits was somehow to adulterate the results, then it was frustrated by the prompt publication of the results by “Malacha”.
MISA-Mozambique expressed its concern at the threats to Nascimento. The statement said MISA “firmly condemns this act of intimidation, since it is a serious threat to press freedom, to the right to information, and to the physical integrity of the journalist, as well as to democracy itself”.
MISA urged the bodies of the administration of justice to investigate the case with a view to holding those who had threatened Nascimento responsible for their acts.