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Will next month's elections be any fairer?

No real action has been taken to hold to account those responsible for manipulating last month's local elections

Tuesday's front pages in Maputo. Photo © Faizal Chauque / Zitamar News

Good afternoon. On Sunday in two weeks’ time, Mozambicans in four towns — the whole of one town, Marromeu, and parts of three others — will have a chance to vote again in local elections. This is in line with the ruling by judges on the Constitutional Council last week that the elections held on 11 October had to be re-run in the light of irregularities. We have already noted that the council has managed to overlook the evidence of fraudulent results in Maputo and Matola; but in these other places, at least, it has admitted the need for new elections.

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In theory, the new elections could lead to different results to last month, when ruling party Frelimo was declared the winner in all four towns. It would be comforting to imagine that these fresh elections will produce a fair and accurate result, but the fact is that the electoral fraud committed last time may well repeat itself.

It is now quite clear that last month’s local elections witnessed not merely isolated instances of electoral fraud, but a concerted and collaborative effort by various institutions to swing the vote in many cities and towns in favour of Frelimo. Evidence like the creation of WhatsApp groups to coordinate the manipulation of voter registration, the systematic refusal of polling place chairs to hand over results sheets with vote counts that went against Frelimo, and the activity of police in ejecting opposition activists and election observers from polling places point to a conspiracy on a grand scale.

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