But the huge number of invalid votes cast in Marromeu suggests that serious fraud has taken place.
The chairperson of the provincial elections commission, Samuel Malate, declared that the Frelimo candidate for mayor of Marromeu, Palmerim Rubino, won 4,518 votes (51.6 per cent), while his sole opponent, Joao Agostinho, of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) rook 4,235 votes (48.4 per cent).
In the election of members of the municipal assembly, Frelimo won 4,774 votes (55.7 per cent), and the MDM 3,606 votes (42.07 per cent). A third party, the PDD (Party for Peace, Democracy and Development), obtained 191 votes (2,23 per cent).
But in both elections a huge number of votes were classified as invalid at the polling stations. For the mayoral election, there were 1,119 invalid votes, and for the assembly election 1,285 invalid votes. So invalid votes accounted for 10.9 per cent of all votes cast for mayor, and 12.6 per cent in the assembly election.
Such extraordinarily high levels of invalid votes only occur when dishonest members of the polling station staff add an ink mark to the ballot paper to make it look as if the voter has tried to vote for more than one candidate. This fraud is well known from previous Mozambican elections and was condemned in the 2009 general elections by the National Elections Commission (CNE) and by the Constitutional Council, but nobody was ever prosecuted.
In the last municipal elections, in 2008, only 4.9 and 3.3 per cent of the votes in the Marromeu mayoral and assembly elections were classified as invalid at the polling stations. To argue that last Wednesday’s ballot was clean is to claim that the political literacy of Marromeu voters has sharply declined over the past five years, and that hundreds of people went to the polls with the sole intention of spoiling their ballot papers.
No other municipality in Sofala comes near this level of invalid votes. In Gorongosa, two per cent of votes cast for mayor and 2.3 per cent of votes for the assembly were classified as invalid.
In Nhamatanda the figures were 7.4 and 6.4 per cent, and in Dondo they were 6.4 and seven per cent. Although not approaching the scandalous Marromeu percentages, the Nhamatanda and Dondo figures should also be regarded with suspicion. Unlike the Marromeu case, the number of invalid votes could not affect the Frelimo victories in Nhamatanda and Dondo.
The normal figure for invalid votes is anywhere between one and four per cent. Anything above five per cent smells of vote tampering.
The ball is now in the court of the CNE, which must review all votes declared invalid at the polling stations.Post published in: Africa News