MDM contesting results in 10 municipalities

The opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) is protesting against the preliminary results from last Wednesday’s municipal elections in ten of the 53 municipalities, according to a report in Monday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”.

The paper cites MDM national spokesperson Sande Carmona as saying that the numbers announced are “unreal” and that there were serious irregularities on polling day.

The municipalities where the MDM is contesting the results are Maputo, Matola, Beira, Quelimane, Chimoio, Gorongosa, Marromeu, Mocuba, Gurue and Milange.

Strangely enough, this list does not include the two municipalities where clear evidence of fraud has come to light – Angoche and Mozambique Island, both on the coast of the northern province of Nampula. In Angoche, however, the main opposition to the ruling Frelimo party came, not from the MDM, but from Assemona (Association for Moral and Civic Education in the Exploitation of Natural Resources), which is a breakaway from the MDM.

Although the MDM won overwhelming victories in both Beira and Quelimane, it is contesting the results, because it believes its margin of victory should have been even larger.

Carmona found it odd that in Beira, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) lost the results sheets (“editais”) from 11 polling stations, and asked to borrow the MDM’s copies of the results sheets, given to MDM monitors at the stations. But this is the correct procedure and the electoral law clearly states that, in the event of the loss or theft of results sheets, the copies held by the political parties are sufficient evidence of the results in those polling stations.

The real oddity is that STAE has not followed the same procedure in Quelimane, where a much larger number of results sheets disappeared. The MDM in Quelimane says it has copies of all the missing sheets, but STAE has declined to use them.

In Chimoio, Gorongosa, Mocuba, Milange and Gurue, the MDM says that the parallel count from its own polling station monitors indicate that it won.

Certainly, in Gurue the result was very close – almost a dead heat with just one vote separating the Frelimo and MDM mayoral candidates. The Frelimo candidate for mayor, Jahangir Hussen Jussub, won 6,626 votes, while his MDM opponent, Orlando Janeiro, won 6,625 votes, on a low turnout of 39 per cent.

An independent parallel count, cited by the latest issue of the “Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”, published by AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa) and the Mozambican anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), confirms this result. All will now hinge on the votes declared invalid at the polling stations. There are 316 of these, and the National Elections Commission (CNE) must look at all of them and decide whether the polling station staff made the right call. If the CNE decides that several of these ballots do in fact express a preference for one of the candidates, then either Jussub or Janeiro might be declared the winner.

In Milange, the independent parallel count found that Frelimo did indeed win. But so far there are no such independent counts for Gorongosa, Chimoio, Marromeu or Mocuba.

As for Maputo and Matola, where the MDM made a very strong showing in what are traditionally Frelimo strongholds, the party believes the official results understate its true numbers.

Meanwhile, the Tete provincial elections commission on Sunday announced the “intermediate count” for Tete city. Adding up all the results sheets from the polling stations, it declared that Frelimo mayoral candidate Celestino Checanhanza won 31,033 votes (65.9 per cent), while his MDM rival Ricardo Tomas won 16,109 (34.1 per cent).

In the elections for the Tete municipal assembly, Frelimo won 30,689 votes (65.4 pr cent), while the MDM took 16,232 votes (34.6 per cent).

This was no surprise, since Tete city has voted overwhelmingly for Frelimo in the past. The MDM will be encouraged because it greatly improved on the opposition’s performance at the last local elections, in 2008. The main opposition force then was the former rebel movement Renamo, which won 12.2 per cent in the mayoral election and 12.5 per cent in the assembly election.

The MDM has thus significantly reduced the Frelimo majority in Tete, and will have many more deputies in the assembly than the five whom Renamo elected in 2008.

Post published in: Africa News

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