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On the first day of the official campaign (yesterday, Saturday 31 Aug) Frelimo flooded the cities and towns with posters. Renamo and MDM had limited advertising material. The situation is worst for small parties, with no seats in parliament, because they depend on state funds.
The law specifies that funds are to be distributed by the National Elections Commission (Comissao Nacional de Eleicoes, CNE) 21 days before the official campaign starts – that is, three weeks ago. The CNE has announced 180 million Meticais ($2.9 mn), but as in past years, the money is delayed.
Opposition parties note that the CNE was totally rigid in enforcing the deadlines for submitting candidates lists; no excuses were accepted and several parties were excluded. Yet with respect to funding, the CNE can violate the law with impunity.
Rodrigues Timba, head of the CNE Committee on Law and Ethics, blamed the Ministry of Finance for not releasing the money.
Antonio Timba of Renamo said the delay in disbursement of funds is the work of the government to benefit Frelimo, which has more funds to support its campaign.
“The main objective of the ruling party is to get the into game ahead of the opposition parties,” Nilton Barros of MDM told the Bulletin.
Timba and Barros said Renamo and MDM had expected this delay, which happens in each elections, and were able to order posters and other material on credit.
That is harder for the 23 small parties. Unlike other democratic countries, small parties do not raise funds from their members, and act like NGOs and depend on outside funding.
Ernesto Armando from PARENA, Jose Carlos from PARESO, Cornelio Quivela from PAHUMO, Mario Albino from AMUSI told the Bulletin that their parties depend exclusively on public funds to start their publicity and the delay means they cannot start their campaigns.
Frelimo’s Caifadine Manasse refused to say if his party had already received funds.
A recent study by the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) found that the systematic delay in disbursing campaign funding has harmed the opposition by forcing it to delay the start of their activities: https://cipmoz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Financiamento-Público-à-Campanha-Eleitoral.pdf
Election campaign parades in the areas of northern Cabo Delgado province affected by attacks by insurgents will be escorted by the police, according to the provincial police commander Bernardino Rafael. Our correspondents report that in the opening Saturday, only Frelimo and Renamo were campaigning, and they were accompanied by police in Quissanga, Macomia, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Ibo, and Mecufi districts.
Thousands of people have fled from villages to towns, particularly in coastal districts. The registration was disrupted by attacks and there are fears of attacks during the campaign when there are more people marching together: https://cipeleicoes.org/onda-de-ataques-de-jihadistas/
“The conditions are created so that population can vote in the same way and in the same place where they registered. Police and other armed forces will be present to ensure that they vote without fear and without threat,” said police commander Rafael.
Although the official campaign only started yesterday, President Filipe Nyusi has been campaigning for two months and Renamo head Ossufo Momade has been campaigning since he signed the peace account on 6 August. This is permitted because the constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
The 43 day official campaign gives extra rights and enforces more equality between parties. Rallies and meetings can take place at any time of day or night and authorities only have to be informed 24 hours in advance; sound systems can be used until 21.00. Parties have access to meeting halls and public buildings and have TV and radio time. Posters can be put up in many public areas.
Equality is enforced. Parties and candidates cannot use state cars and other state and state-owned-company resources. State-owned media including Radio Mocambique and TVM must be balanced in their reporting.
There can be no opinion polls in the 45 days before the elections. There can be no campaigning in the two days before the election.
Four people were killed in traffic accidents on the first day of campaigning
Putting up posters always starts at midnight on the first day of the campaign. In Pemba at 2 am Saturday a car travelling at high speed hit a group of Frelimo supporters putting up posters along Av 25 de Setembro. Seven people were hit. One was killed, three seriously injured, and three treated and released from Pemba Provincial Hospital.
In Concito, Dondo, Sofala, Saturday, a young woman who had chased after a Frelimo car to try to get a t-shirt was fighting over a t-shirt with another woman and suddenly fell off the vehicle and was killed.
In Gile, Zambezia, a Frelimo supporter was killed when his motorcycle hit a lorry as part of a Frelimo parade.
In Sussendenga, Manica, on Friday night before the official campaign during a Frelimo parade two bicyclists crashed, and one was killed.
In Waracula, Maua, Niassa, campaigner Gerlado Cavelo urged a group drinking utheka, a local brew, to vote for Frelimo. The group responded angrily because they had been unable to register because of constant breakdowns of the registration computer, and they attacked Cavelo.
In Seli, Lago, Niassa a Frelimo campaigner putting up posters was beaten by an unknown group and suffered serious facial injuries.
The law specifically prohibits the use of government resources for electoral campaigns, but Frelimo is often caught using state cars. State cars have registration plates with red numbers to make them obvious, so the plates are often covered with paper or Frelimo posters.
In Jangamo, Inhambane, Frelimo was using a Nissan Hardbody of the district education, youth and technology service. In Mulevala, Zambézia, Frelimo was using a car of the district planning and infrastructure services. And in Mecúfi, Cabo Delgado, Frelimo was using cars from both the district education service and the district office.
During the official campaign, party posters can be put up in public places and on street light posts, etc. But they cannot be put on government buildings or on private property without permission. But it is also a crime to pull down or deface posters which are properly posted.
In Moatize, Tete, the manager of the VIP hotel was arrested Saturday for pulling down Frelimo posters illegally put on the wall of his hotel.
In Xai-Xai Frelimo pulled down Renamo posters, while in Matola and Maputo Frelimo posters were damaged.
In Tambara someone pasted a Frelimo poster over a Renamo poster at the Renamo office. In Guerica, Derra, Zambezia, Frelimo pasted its posters on the door of a Renamo official.
In Milange both MDM and Frelimo put up posters on public buildings.
In most places the campaign opened calmly, but with only the big three parties campaigning, as shown by a sample of reports from our correspondents:
Inhambane province: In Vilankulo district, Frelimo, Renamo and MDM were all out on the streets campaigning. In Guvuro Frelimo and MDM campaigned, and in Jangamo only Frelimo.
Gaza province: In Bilene, Renamo, Frelimo and MDM were all out campaigning; in Limpopo Frelimo campaigners were putting up posters well before midnight Friday.
Sofala province: President Filipe Nyusi launched the Frelimo campaign in Beira. In Muxungue, Chibabava, only Frelimo launched its campaign. In Buzi and Gorongosa both Frelimo and MDM started their campaign at midnight Friday putting up posters. Renamo is disorganised in Sofala because of a split in the party, so publicity materials are only arriving and campaigning has not started.
Zambezia Province: MDM head Daviz Simango had a rally at Quelimane airport Friday night and launched his party’s campaign in Gurue on Saturday. Frelimo and Renamo are also active. In Alto Molocue, Frelimo and Renamo launched campaigns but not MDM. In Milane and Mulevala, it was Renamo which was absent. In Derre, Frelimo started at 21.00 Friday night and is still the only party campaigning.
Tete Province: Frelimo, MDM and Renamo all started putting up posters at midnight Friday. In Mutarara, all three parties started their campaigns, distributing t-shirts and caps. But in Zumbo and Cahora-Bassa, only Frelimo was campaigning.
Maputo province: Renamo general secretary Andre Magibire launched the Renamo campaign in Matola on Saturday.Source: 2019 General Elections - Mozambique Political Process Bulletin