Mozambican elections chair calls for integrity from staff

The chairperson of Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, has insisted that members of the electoral bodies must show to the public that they are “serious and honest”.

Speaking on Monday at a meeting of electoral staff drawing up a balance sheet of the municipal elections, he insisted, in a speech cited by the Maputo daily “Noticias”, that they had to act with integrity.

Their main task, he said, “is to comply with the laws, with transparency, impartiality and fairness”. It was part of the responsibility of the electoral bodies “to create an environment of political stability and of the strengthening of democracy”.

Misconduct by electoral staff came with a heavy price, he warned. “If elections are not fair, there is a clear risk of instability”, Carimo said. “The electoral authorities lose their credibility and the legitimacy of those elected to govern is called into question”.

“The responsibility is ours”, he stressed. “Everything depends on us, and we must understand this. Each act we commit during elections that is against the law can have damaging consequences”.

Carimo admitted that electoral staff had made “mistakes” during the municipal elections – though some of the evidence presented by observers and opposition parties shows that , rather than simple error, serious fraud took place in some of the municipalities.

Carimo denounced the failure to issue credentials for around 150 election observers. This happened in Beira where the local elections commission claimed it had run out of plastic for credentials, and defied the CNE by refusing to issue paper credentials.

There had also been many complaints about the way polling station staff had handled critical materials such as the results sheets and the polling station minutes, as well as reports of ballot papers somehow circulating “outside of the normal channels”, and thus opening the door to fraud.

“Such matters must deserve special attention on our part”, Carimo said, “for if this information is true, it calls into question the entire voting process”

The polling station staff are supposed to give the accredited monitors from the competing parties copies of the results sheets and minutes. But in some cases, they had given monitors the originals, and the electoral bodies were left with the copies – or even without results sheets at all,

“How can we pay polling station staff who come back without any results sheets or minutes from their station?”, Carimo asked. “Are these problems to do with the training or are they mistakes that were committed deliberately? What inspection mechanisms should be introduced so that such situations do not recur”.

Many of the problems, he added, result from “pernicious intervention” by some political parties on electoral staff. There were even some members of electoral bodies who set out to serve the parties they support, he added, thus forgetting the oath they took to uphold the Constitution and the laws.

He did not mention which parties he had in mind – but only two parties, the ruling Frelimo Party and the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) stood candidates in all 53 municipalities.

Post published in: Africa News

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