Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin
Issue 23 - 17 December 1999
- Material may be freely reprinted

(Election Extra)

Up arrow

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, Chissano’s 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 (editais). 
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. 

DELAYED RESULTS 

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 other.
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 misconduct. 
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. 

COMPUTER PROBLEMS 

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 input. 
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. 

PRELIMINARY RESULTS 

In the presidential race, with approximately 400,000 votes still to be counted, provincial results already announced give: 2,243,373 Joaquim Chissano (52.2%) 
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: 

Frelimo Renamo . 1994
Frelimo Renamo UD
14 2 Maputo City 17 1 0
12 1 Maputo Province 12 1 0
16 0 Ganza  15 0 1
13 4 Inhambane 13 3 2
4 17 Sofala 3 18 0
5 10 Manica 4 9 0
8 10 Tete 5 9 1
15 34 Zambezia 18 29 2
24 26 Nampula 20 32 2
15 7 Cabo Delgado 15 6 1
6 7 Niassa 7 4 0
132 118 TOTAL 129 112 9

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.