Maputo, 21 Apr (AIM) – The leader of Mozambique’s man opposition party, Renamo, Ossufo Momade, on Thursday called for greater inspection of the current voter registration, to ensure that nobody receives more than one voter card.
Momade was speaking to reporters after he registered at a voter registration post set up in a Maputo secondary school. He insisted that only with tight monitoring would it be possible to avoid electoral fraud.
“Voter registration has no political party colour”, he said. “It is an act of citizenship”. Renamo expected the registration to be transparent, and so called on potential voters not to try to register more than once.
“Each Mozambican citizen, each potential voter, has the right to hold one voter card. The card is individual, and cannot be passed on to other people”, he stressed.
The current registration covers all districts which contain municipalities. Only people with a voter card will be able to vote in the municipal elections scheduled for 11 October.
The voter registration began on Thursday and lasts until 3 June. Only cards issued during this registration can be used at the polls. Voter cards issued for previous elections are no longer valid.
The current problem with the registration is not that people are trying to register twice, but that delays and equipment breakdowns are making it difficult for people to register at all.
The latest issue of the Bulletin on the municipal elections published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), gives a long list of registration posts that did not open on time, or at all, or where breakdowns of computers or printers made registration impossible.
Thus in the Metangula municipality, in the northern province of Niassa, only five of the 34 registration posts opened on Thursday. In the Marrupa municipality, some posts did not open because the poor state of the roads made it impossible to send the equipment there. It was impassable roads that also prevented four registration brigades from reaching their posts in Mecanhelas district.
At the registration post in the Josina Machel Basic School, registation began late, not because of any equipment breakdown, but because the machine had been taken to the Cuamba General Secondary School in order to register the administrator.
In Nampula city, at the Muthita primary school, registration began, but was very slow. By 13.00 less than ten voters had been registered, and by 14.00 no voters had received their voter cards. So the brigade members only introduced the data into the computer, and told the voters to pick up their cards on Friday. The printer has broken down.
At the Cerâmica primary school, in Nampula, the printing of cards stopped because of a power cut. The brigade could only input the data into the computer.
Likewise in Beira, printers used by the brigades at the Matacune Primary School and the Samora Machel Secondary School failed to print the voter cards. By 13.00, the would-be voters had received instructions to go home, because no technician was available to repair the machine.
In the Timutanine post, in the Marracuene municipality, in Maputo Province, by 12.00 there was neither registration material nor brigades. There were just two party monitors waiting for the neighbourhood representative to explain the situation.
At the Fusca Primary School in Marracuene, the brigades were competely paralysed due to equipment breakdowns. By 11.00 the voters decided to leave the registration post because no technical staff were available. Similarly in the Marracuene neighbourhood of Guava, the brigade’s activities were paralysed because the machines had broken down. It was, however, possible to repair them and registration began at 13.00.
At the Nhongonhane primary school, the registration brigade had only registered two voters. Their slowness was due to their poor ability to handle the machines. Because of this, the few voters who were waiting in the queue ended up leaving the post.
In Gaza, in the Bilene municipality, a technical problem in the equipment meant that not a single voter was registered by midday. The technical team of the Electoral Administration Technial Secretariat (STAE) was asked to intervene, but by the time of the CIP report it had not been possible to solve this problem.
CIP correspondents reported other cases in Gaza of brigades that only opened their posts after 11.00, due to technical problems with the equipment.
Some of the problems were ridiculously simple: thus, in Manhiça district, at the Santa Rita Community School in the Xinavane administrative post, registration began very late (at about 11.00) due to the lack of a three-pin adaptor to connect the equipment to the school’s electric current.
It is too early to draw any conclusions from the CIP sample of registration posts – but it is alarming that a significant number of posts experienced equipment breakdowns on the very first day of the registration.
Also the difficulties of the brigade members in handling the equipment, leading to voters waiting in queues for an unacceptably long time, is hard to explain. It seems to indicate gross failings in the training of the brigades, even though there is nothing new about voter registration in Mozambique. This is the sixth time that the entire municipal electorate has been registered.