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Children in a Buzi road. Photo: UNICEF
Electoral registration opens Monday, but not everywhere. There are 7,737 registration posts in Mozambique (which will also be the voting centres), but only 5,096 registration brigades. Some will be mobile and will move on a fixed schedule to cover several registration posts in more remote areas. STAE will also use the mobile brigades to deal with the problems caused by Cyclone Idai and the subsequent floods, explained Claudio Langa, spokesperson for the Election Technical Secretariat (Secretariado Tecnico de Administracao Eleitoral – STAE) at a press conference this morning.
“We will adapt,” he said. Registration runs for 46 days – 15 April through 30 May – and STAE will use the experience of the first two weeks to adapt to local conditions. With the long registration period, mobile brigades will be able to go to more isolated places as they dry out and become accessible.
At Mafambisse the Pungue River today is still nearly 1 metre above flood level and is only falling by 10 cm per day, and a few areas remain inaccessible. And the 10 April World Food Programme access map shows some roads still impassable in Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia. The map is on bit.ly/MozCyclone28
STAE’s warehouse in Beira was badly damaged with computers and other equipment, as well as the data base, lost. But the data base was backed up and enough equipment has been obtained from other areas for registration to begin.
A significant part of the affected population is in the cities of Beira and Dondo, most of whom will already be registered. People register to vote near where they live, usually at a school, and in the two cities accommodation centres are by neighbourhood and often in or near the school, which should make registration possible. In Buzi and other affected areas, people may be in centres further from their homes, and Langa said no decision had been made yet about registering people in accommodation centres.
Some people will have lost all of their documents and will want to obtain a voters card as the easiest way to obtain a identify document. Voters with no identification can register if they are known to a member of the registration brigade, are identified by a community leader already registered at that location, or are identified by two people already registered there.
Many people who have lost nearly everything and do not have a house will remain in a centre during the registration period. But they will also return to check on their land and start rebuilding, and will register at the same time just to obtain an ID.
Although there will be relatively fewer people registering in Beira and Dondo, Langa expects more transfers, as people leave and arrive in the cities. If people still have their voters card from last year, transfer is easy as they just present their card at the new registration post. If they have lost their card, however, they must register as a new voter because the registration brigades have the existing registry of the places where they are working, but they are not on-line so do not have access to the national data base.
If people have lost their card but return to the same place to obtain a new card, they only have to use their fingerprint as identification and a new card is issued.
Aiming for 14 million voters
Mozambique has no permanent electoral register, so voters must register anew every 5-years for each electoral cycle. Registration is taking place in the entire country (and for Mozambicans abroad). Last year 6,824,582 people registered in districts with the 53 municipalities that had elections last year, and they need not register again. STAE hopes to register 7,341,736 voters this year, for a total of 14,166,318.
Each registration brigade has a kit that fits in a case, known as a “mobile-ID”, with a laptop computer, camera, fingerprint reader, and registration card printer. Many of the kits were used five years ago and last year but have been refurbished and upgraded. An important improvement from last year is 3000 solar panels, which replace generators which proved difficult to use. But electricity lines are down due to the cyclone in some areas, so generators will be returned to use where needed.
Some parts of Mozambique are normally difficult to access, and some registration teams will travel by boat, canoe, tractor, donkey cart and by foot.
The total registration budget is 4000 million Meticais ($63 mn) not counting the money paid to registration brigades.
Training of brigade members finished yesterday (11 April); 18,000 people were trained and the best 15,288 selected. All will be in place by Sunday night. In addition there are 6000 civic education workers who have been in the field since 8 April. And 5000 police will be assigned to the registration brigades.
By Joseph HanlonSource: 2019 General Elections - Mozambique Political Process Bulletin
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