“Treat every day as an emergency” – Prime Minister
Mozambican parliament. [File photo: DW]
Some believe that an alleged manipulation in voter registration is intended to reduce the weight of the opposition in parliament. NGOs and the opposition feel that the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) is conniving in doing so, and serving the interests of the ruling party.
The Mozambican parliament has 250 sitting deputies. What determines the number of seats of the parties is the number of registered voters in the provinces – that is, the constituencies. And this is determined by article 165 of the Electoral Law, on the distribution of deputies by electoral circles.
Although the voter registration process has not yet been completed, there are only a few days left. Already a clear trend may be perceived towards the loss of seats in opposition-dominated provinces: Zambézia, Nampula, Sofala and Maputo.
Borges Nhamire, a researcher at the CIP, a transparency NGO, believes that “with fewer people than expected registered to vote, there will be a loss of seats compared to the previous year, because the number of people registered this year has decreased in relation to 2014 from a proportional point of view and not from an absolute point of view”.
Gimmicks to reduce opposition in Parliament?
The country’s most populous province and opposition stronghold registers figures well below estimates
In order to calculate the proportionality, the total number of registered voters in the country is divided by the total number of deputies, 250, with constituencies also entering the equation, according to the De Hondt method, which is the basis of article 165.
Zambézia, a bastion of Renamo support, is the province most disadvantaged so far, losing six seats if voter registration continues at the rate it is. José Manteigas, spokesman for the country’s largest opposition party, is convinced that there is a clear intention to undermine them in parliament.
“The issue of mandates is precisely to reduce the representation of Mozambicans from these regions, because the deputies of these zones are “a thorn in the side” of the regime. So, the only way to exclude Mozambicans from these zones is to reduce the number of mandates of the provinces, which is not fair and will not translate into free and transparent elections,” Manteigas says.
With 191 seats, Frelimo has a majority in parliament, which allows it to comfortably approve or reject whatever is in its best interests. Renamo has 51 seats and the MDM, the second-largest opposition party, has eight.
STAE at the service of Frelimo?
Although the two latter parties are a long way behind the ruling party, that may change because of the bad image the ruling party is getting. And stopping this, with the help of STAE, seems to be Frelimo’s strategy.
“These are the regime’s agendas. That is why we have already demanded, three times, the immediate dismissal of the director general of STAE, because he has been a hindrance in this process,” the Renamo spokesman says.
So, in next October’s electoral race, Frelimo might have started before the whistle sounds. CIP researcher Manteigas predicts that “if the numbers actually end as they are now and as the CIP has projected, if Frelimo wins another 12 MPs, this means that Frelimo already has an advantage, with the potential to win the election and thus more MPs”.
Voter registration for the general elections of October 15, 2019, began on April 15 and ends on May 31.Source: Deutsche Welle
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