Mozambique: Special parliament session in June
Almost 48 hours after the close of polls, the Nampula District Elections Commission on Friday evening released official results fromWednesday’s mayoral by-election, confirming that no candidate had received over 50 per cent of the vote, and there must therefore be a second round.
The District Commission also confirmed the low turnout. According to the official results sheet, of the 296,590 registered voters in Nampula, only 73,852 cast ballots. This was a turnout of only 24.9 per cent. Over three quarters of the Nampula electorate did not bother to vote.
Such low turnouts have become the norm in Mozambican municipal elections. The last municipal election in Nampula was in 2013, and the turnout was 26 per cent.
A relatively small number of the votes cast were invalid or blank:
Total votes – 73,852 (100 per cent)
Blank ballots – 786 (1.06 per cent)
Invalid votes – 1,307 (1.76 per cent)
Valid Votes – 71,759 (97.16 per cent).
The total number of votes cast for each of the candidates, and their percentage of the valid votes was as follows:
Amisse Cololo (Frelimo) 31,980 (44.5 per cent)
Paulo Vahanle (Renamo) 28,930 (40.3 per cent)
Carlos Saide (MDM) 7,253 (10 per cent)
Mario Albino (Amusi) 3,036 (4.2 per cent)
Filomena Mutoropa (Pahumo) 560 (0.7 per cent)
These figures are almost identical to those announced a day earlier by those Mozambican election observers who undertook a parallel count, and confirm the need for a run-off between the two candidates with the most votes, Cololo and Vahanle.
The District Commission gave no explanation for the delay in announcing the results, merely saying that the announcement was made within the legal time limit. This is true (by law the Commission had 72 hours to announce the results), but it is also irrelevant. For the Nampula branch of the executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), had said the results would be ready within a couple of hours of close of polls.
This would certainly have been possible. It was just a matter of collecting the results sheets from the 401 polling stations and adding up the figures. A 48 hour delay is inexcusable and merely fed suspicions that someone was trying to doctor the results.
The results as announced by the District Commission are not yet definitive. They have to be confirmed by the National Elections Commission (CNE), which has to check all the votes declared invalid at the polling stations.
Since polling station staff tend to be strict in interpreting the rules on what constitutes an invalid vote, the CNE usually rescues a fair number of “invalid” votes and allocates them to the candidates. But there is no way this could significantly change the result.
Once the CNE has declared the results, they must be validated and proclaimed by the Constitutional Council, the highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law. After the proclamation by the Constitutional Council, the government has 30 days to announce, on the advice of the CNE, the date for the second round.
If the CNE and the Constitutional Council work quickly (and all past experience suggests they will not), then it will just be possible to hold the second round in February.
But it is far more likely that the run-off between Cololo and Vahanle will take place in March. This is a serious problem because voter registration for the October national municipal elections will take place between 1 March and 29 April in all districts where there are municipalities, including Nampula.
Nampula citizens will thus be asked to choose between Cololo and Vahanle at exactly the same time as they are being to register as voters for a different election, which is bound to create confusion.
The problem arises because of a peculiar feature of the Mozambican electoral system whereby voters must re-register every five years. This was a requirement insisted upon by Renamo when the electoral laws were first being discussed in the 1990s, and it has never been revoked. Voter registration is only valid for one “electoral cycle” – that is for municipal elections one year, presidential and parliamentary elections the next year, and any municipal by-elections that may be held within five years.
Thus a voter card issued in Nampula for the 2013 municipal elections was also valid for the 2014 general elections, and for Wednesday’s by-election, but it will not be valid for the nationwide municipal elections scheduled for October, or for the 2019 general elections.
In the history of Mozambican municipal elections, there has only been one previous run-off. This was in Nacala in 2008, where an independent citizens’ list took enough votes in the first round to force a run-off between Frelimo and Renamo.
There were no run-offs in the 2013 municipal elections, because Renamo boycotted them, thus guaranteeing a two horse race between Frelimo and the MDM in every municipality. But with Renamo promising to compete in October, every municipality becomes a three way race, and it is likely that several of these races will go to a second round.Source: AIM