Maputo, 16 May (AIM) – Mozambique’s second largest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), has claimed that voter registration ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for 11 October is being manipulated, citing as an example the wildly uneven distribution of registration posts.
MDM leader Lutero Simango discussed the matter on Monday when he met with the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Bishop Carlos Matsinhe.
“We have the specific case of Beira, which covers an area of 666 square kilometres, with an estimated electorate of 389,093 voters. For this municipality, there are 66 registration posts”, said Simango. “The municipality of Marracuene (about 30 kilometres north of Maputo) covers the same area, and has a projected electorate of 154,188 voters. But it has 164 registration posts”.
Cited in Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, Simango told Matsinhe he regarded this as “a serious manipulation of the process”, and asked the CNE to correct it.
Matsinhe admitted that this anomaly is real, and he promised that it will be discussed at a CNE meeting. “With the data presented here, nobody can ignore that there are many differences”, he said. “I want to thank you for the analysis you have made here. When you speak of the city of Beira, which has 66 registration posts, and Xai-Xai (the much smaller capital of Gaza province) which has approximately the same number, this says a lot. But the CNE, when it received the map of the distribution of the registration posts, did not make this analysis, and we thank you for doing this”.
Voter registration began on 20 April, and is due to end on 3 June. Simango suggested that, in light of the anomalies, the registration period should be extended.
As for the creation of a WhatsApp group supposedly interfering with the registration in Beira, Matsinhe said he knew nothing about it.
The accusation is that the WhatsApp group was set up by the Director of STAE (Election Administration Technical Secretariat) in Beira, Nelson Carlos do Rosário, to corrupt the registration.
The WhatsApp group is said to include all the Beira registration post supervisors, and the director uses this platform to instruct the brigades to slow down the registration, so that only 40 people are registered a day, and not the 130 envisaged as the target. The idea is not to meet the desired target, thus leaving many opposition supporters off the voter rolls.
Matsinhe said that “if a WhatsApp group has been set up deliberately to instruct brigade members to undertake acts that corrupt the registration, this is illegal”.
“It’s important to know who created this group, what its origin is, and, if possible, follow it up, to understand to what extent this group is damaging the registration”, said Matsinhe. “My position is to condemn this use of social media to interfere in the normal process of voter registration”.
As for the reports of some brigades registering citizens clandestinely and at night, Matsinhe said this is completely unauthorized. “Voter registration has previously indicated registration posts, and never was any brigade stationed to operate in the home of a citizen, much less in the home of a community leader, a neighbourhood secretary or a block chief”, he declared.