|CHISSANO CLOSE TO NARROW
VICTORY BUT FINAL RESULTS DELAYED
President Joaquim Chissano seems close to a narrow victory over Renamo leader Afonso
Dhlakama in the 3-5 December election. With about 400,000 valid votes still to be counted,
Chissanos lead is 200,000. The election itself won high praise from international
and national observers, and there were very few problems reported.
But counting has been very slow, due to the delayed installation of the provincial
computer systems and to the large number of errors in the polling station report forms
Each polling station counted its own votes at night after polling ended. This meant that
the report from each polling station was filled in by candle or lamp light at 2am by a
very tired polling station staff. As many as one-fifth of the reports have mistakes, many
simply of arithmetic, but others which are less easy to correct. The electoral law is
highly decentralised, and specifies that each province does its own preliminary count and
must announce the results within 7 days. The final province was Nampula, which announced
its results on Thursday, 4 days late.
VOTES STILL TO BE COUNTED
However it turns out the provincial election commissions
declined to resolve all of the problems, and left the hard ones "for Maputo".
Many provinces have sent as many as 10 per cent of their report forms directly to the
National Election Commission (CNE) in Maputo and did not include those numbers in their
provisional provincial results.
Rev Jamisse Taimo, president of the National Election Commission, at a press conference
Thursday 16 December said that he estimated that about 200,000 voters were covered by the
remaining problems that had to be resolved at national level. (The Bulletin's calculations
suggest the figure is slightly higher, at 300,000).
In addition, the law requires that the CNE reconsider all invalid votes
("nulos") and protested votes (of which observers report very few). Taimo
estimated 250,000 invalid and protested votes in each race.
The Bulletin estimates that about 100,000 of the invalid votes will be reclassified as
valid. Adding this to the estimated 300,000 valid votes still outstanding leads to our
estimate that 400,000 votes still need to be counted -- in each race.
The National Election Commission is, by law, required to
announce final results within 14 days of the close of polling -- Sunday 19 December. But
there is absolutely no possibility of this.
Reconsideration of the 500,000 (250,000 for each race) invalid vote will not be completed
by then. This is proving a very slow process, with one Renamo CNE member and one Frelimo
CNE member considering each and every ballot paper ruled invalid by polling station staff.
Although they are working three shifts over 24 hours, and are supported by a staff which
does a preliminary sort, the process is simply too time consuming.
Then the CNE must consider the report forms (editais) with problems -- the forms for the
votes which were not counted at provincial level. Several hundred of these have been
forwarded to the CNE to be considered precisely because they were considered too difficult
at provincial level, and each and every one will need to be discussed by Renamo and
Frelimo CNE members.
Even with good will and long hours, it will be difficult to resolve this reclassification
before Christmas. But tensions and distrust are growing within the CNE and goodwill is
much reduced, which means that each step takes longer because each side distrusts the
Delays fuel distrust which leads Renamo to demand ever more care and ever more detailed
involvement, which in turn increases the delays.
FRAUD AND MISCONDUCT
Although voting days themselves went ahead with few
problems and high praise from observers, there have been a number of examples of fraud and
The most serious case occurred in Nampula, where computer operators linked to Renamo
changed data as it was being input. The president of the provincial election commission,
Teofilo Manuel, said on Thursday 16 December that a major reason for the delay in
reporting results as been the need to correct this data. The incident has been
independently confirmed, and would have shifted tens of thousands of votes from Chissano
to Dhlakama had it not been picked up.
Both sides have been caught ballot box stuffing. Renamo in Nacala and places in Tete and
Zambezia province, and Frelimo in Changara district is Tete province.
Changara saw the only major example of intimidation during the election campaign, when
Renamo supporters were driven out of the district. Even the Renamo-nominated deputy
district director of STAE, the election secretariat, was forced to flee. Renamo says its
party agents were also threatened, and thus it was impossible to have party agents in
Changara to monitor the voting.
There were a number of punch-ups between supporters of the two main parties durign the
campaign, and some leaders on both sides seem to have encouraged young members to be
provocative and aggressive in some places.
Widespread use of state vehicles by Frelimo was also noted during the campaign.
Unease has been compounded by the late installation of
computer software and deep Renamo distrust of computers. In an excellent display of
transparency, each provincial computer has a special terminal where observers and party
agents (delegados da candidatura) can display any report form (edital) which has been
It was apparently though use of this terminal that Frelimo agents discovered that Renamo
staff were making changes to the reports they were inputting in Nampula. Nevertheless,
Renamo does not trust the monitors. The senior Renamo member of the CNE, Franciso
Marcelino (formerly Jose de Castro), told a press conference that looking at this terminal
was no different from looking at a TV set at home, and implied that is was possible to
display something different on the screen than was in the computer.
Renamo CNE members, technicians and representatives have permanent access to the rooms in
which data entry is done, and they have been present both provincially and in Maputo.
However they do not have access to the small room which actually contains the physical
computer network server. The continued distrust has led Renamo to say this shows there is
a total lack of transparency and to make at least two attempts to break into the room with
the actual computer.
In the presidential race, with approximately 400,000 votes
still to be counted, provincial results already announced give: 2,243,373 Joaquim Chissano
2,052,326 Afonso Dhlakama (47.8%)
Difference: 191,047 (4.4%)
In the parliamentary race, none of the small parties will
go above the 5% barrier, so only Frelimo and the Renamo Electoral Union will be
represented (although perhaps 15 of the Renamo UE seats will be held by representatives of
small parties). Again with approximately 400,000 votes still to be counted, provincial
results give a preliminary seat distribution of:
The righthand columns show the
1994 seats for Frelimo, Renamo and UD.
This distribution of seats is based on partial results as announced at provincial level,
with problem votes and revalidated votes still to be included. This will inevitably lead
to some shifts. For example, votes from Nacala are not included because they have been
contested by Frelimo, but even if Frelimo gains some votes in the recount, the Nacala
votes are probably enough to shift one seat from Frelimo to Renamo.
But it seems highly unlikely that Frelimo will lose its parliamentary majority.