Mozambique elections, AIM report: Araújo claims he still has "lots of energy"
When the chairperson of the Moatize CDE, Blasio Pedro, was challenged on the difference between the first and second counts, he blamed it on “the complex process of requalification of the votes”. Photo: DW
Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Sunday alleged “generalised fraud” in the municipal elections held last Wednesday – but said it would only protest at those results “where the theft attained its highest point”, according to a report in Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, the Renamo national election agent, Andre Majibire, concentrated on the municipality of Moatize, in the western province of Tete, where an initial count of the polling station results sheets gave victory to Renamo – but a second count mysteriously cut the Renamo total by almost 1,500 votes and declared Frelimo the winner.
Magibire said that Moatize members of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) counted the results sheets and determined that Renamo had 11,169 votes to 9,856 for Frelimo.
He then made the extremely serious allegation that Frelimo appointees to the Moatize STAE and District Elections Commission (CDE) broke into the STAE warehouse, illegally opened the sealed plastic bags of votes and documents, and changed the results. The new results gave Frelimo 9,839 votes and Renamo 9,742.
Magibire said that Renamo has its official copies of all 49 polling station results sheets and will use them to challenge the Moatize result in the National Elections Commission (CNE), and if necessary appeal to the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law.
A journalist in Moatize, Aparicio Jose de Nascimento, editor of the local weekly paper “Malacha”, did his own count of the results sheets. He visited all the polling stations after the end of the Wednesday night count and published all the 49 results on the “Malacha” Facebook page.
His count of the results sheets gave Renamo 11,166 votes, and Frelimo 9,789 – almost identical to the first count done by STAE.
“Malacha”s version of the second count notes that, when the chairperson of the Moatize CDE, was challenged on the difference between the first and second counts, he blamed it on “the complex process of requalification of the votes”.
But this makes no sense, since votes are no longer “requalified” under the new legislation on municipal elections. “Requalification” used to refer to those votes described as invalid at the polling stations – they were all taken to Maputo and reconsidered by the CNE.
That no longer happens – definitive decisions on whether a vote is invalid are now taken at the polling stations. If no consensus can be achieved on a particular ballot paper, it is described as a “disputed vote” and the CDE must decide on it.
According to “Malacha”, 1,449 ballots were disputed at the polling stations. The CDE only attributed five of these votes to political parties – two to Frelimo and three to Renamo. The rest were really invalid (the total number of invalid votes was given as 1,633 – suspiciously high, since it is about seven per cent of all ballots cast).
As for the break-in at the STAE warehouses, the final results sheet justified this on the grounds that the people with the keys were absent. A security measure for STAE warehouses is that they have four padlocks. One key is in the hands of each political party (Frelimo, Renamo and the MDM), and the fourth is with STAE. So in principle, the warehouse can only be opened with the consent of all the key holders – and this principle was violated in Moatize.
The Renamo spokesperson in Moatize, Fabiao Bzwingue, told reporters “We have all the results sheets and the minutes from the polling stations, signed by all the participants. We shall put this altogether and present it to the organs of justice”.
In Maputo, Magibire stressed that Renamo is not interested in any confusion, but intends to lodge appeals according to the legal rules.