Mozambique's Supreme Court on 4 January rejected an appeal by the country's main opposition party, Renamo, against the results of the 3-5 December general election. The results, announced by the National Elections Commission (CNE) on 22 December, gave victory in the presidential election to the incumbent, Joaquim Chissano, with 52.3 per cent of the vote, as against 47.7 per cent for his only rival, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.In the parliamentary election, Chissano's Frelimo Party won 133 of the 250 seats against 117 for Renamo.
Renamo challenged the results, alleging widespread fraud, and submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Council calling for a recount.
The Constitutional Council is the body supposed to deal with appeals against decisions by the CNE. Although its role is specified in the 1990 constitution, it has not been set up, and its functions are still being exercised, on an interim basis, by the Supreme Court.
The Court worked over the Xmas and New Year holiday period on the Renamo appeal, and called in independent expert witnesses to look at such matters as the computerisation of the election results.
A lengthy ruling from the court, read out in public session on 4 January, found that there was no evidence of any fraudulent behaviour.
Renamo's appeal had cited 23 supposed irregularities. By far the most serious claim was that the results announced by the CNE were based, not on the written documents of the provincial counts, but on computer diskettes sent from the provinces that had been corrupted and falsified.
The Supreme Court found there was no truth in this, and that the CNE had indeed worked from the reports ("actas") and other written documents pertaining to the provincial counts.
"There is evident proof, and those making the appeal know it well, that the reports from the provincial counts, as written and authenticated documents, were delivered, according to the regulations, to the members of the CNE", said the ruling. "After checking them, the CNE members handed them over to STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat) for computerisation".
Those who controlled this data input, it said, were technical staff appointed by the political parties.
In late November, the CNE had decided that, after the reports and polling station notices ("editais") were received from the provinces, they should be fed into computers using software tested and approved by the CNE. Six of the CNE's 17 members were appointed by Renamo, and they did not object to this.
The Court found that, contrary to Renamo's claims, the CNE's computer system used, not ordinary diskettes, but CD-ROMs, which were immune to alteration.
"The introduction of other data through falsified disks would have been unsuccessful, since they would have been rejected by the protective system in the software used, whose effectiveness was already proven", said the Court.
Renamo had repeatedly claimed that the technical staff it appointed had been prevented from monitoring the tabulation of votes properly. The court questioned these staff members and concluded that "nobody was prevented from carrying out their tasks, such as supervising the processing of data from the count".
The Renamo appeal also claimed that huge numbers of votes had been left out of the count. It spoke of the CNE failing to include data from 938 polling station notices for the presidential election, and from 1,170 notices for the parliamentary election.
Using the assumption that each polling station covers a thousand voters, Renamo alleged that the CNE had left out votes of up to 900,000 voters in the presidential, and 1.17 million voters in the parliamentary election.
The Supreme Court found that the Renamo figures were wrong. STAE's records show that 7,772 presidential and 7,595 parliamentary "editais" were processed. This left unprocessed 550 presidential and 727 parliamentary "editais" which contained errors that could not be overcome.
There were a variety of reasons why STAE could not process these editais. Some did not even contain the code for the polling station they referred to. Some failed to indicate how many ballot papers were counted in the ballot boxes. Some failed to indicate how many votes each candidate or party had won. In some there were insoluble mathematical discrepancies (for instance, between the total number of votes in the ballot box, and the counted numbers of valid, blank and invalid votes). Other editais contained illegitimate erasures.
The Court said that "these irregularities were so evident that there is no record of any protest from candidates or competing parties against the decision to reject any of these editais".
How many people were disenfranchised in this way? The rejected editais cover 6.61 per cent of the polling stations in the presidential election, and 8.74 per cent in the parliamentary election.
The average number of voters per polling station is not 1,000, as Renamo assumed, but 634. Taking the average turnout of 69.51 per cent, the Supreme Court found that 377,773 voters, rather than 900,000 claimed by Renamo, were affected in the presidential election.
Some of Renamo's other claims in its appeal were fragile. One was that not all members of the Gaza Provincial Elections Commission had signed the report from the Gaza count.
The Court pointed out that there are seven members of each Provincial Commission, that decisions are taken by majority vote, and that the Commissions can only decide if over half their members are present. In this case, the report was signed by four of five commission members present, and was therefore legitimate.
Renamo also claimed that "armed men" had intimidated its computer staff. But the only evidence provided for this was a note sent by Dhlakama's election agent, Luis Gouveia, to the CNE on 18 December.
This note spoke of "systematic obstruction" of Renamo-appointed staff. but said nothing about armed men. It also gave no time and place for the alleged intimidation or obstruction, and did not even name the technicians concerned.
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court investigated the complaint by questioning STAE staff, including those appointed by Renamo. "None of them confirmed that they had been subjected to intimidation or coercion in the exercise of their duties", said the court document.
As for "repeated alterations" which Renamo claimed STAE had made in its computer software, the court asked the STAE technical staff about this, "and the unanimous response was that, since the approval of the software by the CNE, after adjustments and technical improvements had been introduced, it did not undergo any further alterations in its content".
Renamo protested that the "requalification" of all votes declared invalid at the polling stations had never been concluded. (All invalid votes were sent to CNE headquarters, and the CNE took the final decision as to whether the votes rally were invalid, or expressed a voter's preference, even if the mark on the paper was not quite where it should be.)
The Court found that the task of dealing with the invalid votes had been concluded, and gave detailed figures for this. Thus of the 194,345 presidential votes declared invalid, the CNE reinstated 58,262 of them - 30,349 for Dhlakama, and 27,913 for Chissano.
There were many more invalid votes in the parliamentary election - 309,139 - and 70,487 of these were reinstated. Of these reinstated votes, 24,983 were from Renamo, 22,904 for Frelimo, and the rest for the ten minor parties and coalitions contesting the elections.
The Renamo appeal gave the numbers of six polling stations in Inhambane which had been left out of the provincial count. When the Court investigated, it found that the numbers mentioned by Renamo were of polling stations, not in Inhambane, but in Cabo Delgado, in the far north. In Cabo Delgado, it noted, there had been no protest registered about any polling station.
Renamo raised once more its claim that it had been prevented from campaigning in the districts of Changara, Cahora Bassa and Magoe in the western province of Tete. The Court pointed out that it had already ruled definitively against Renamo on this issue in December. Furthermore, the question of violence in Changara, Cahora Bassa and Magoe, had no bearing on the question of a recount.
Neither did the detention of Renamo members during and after the voting. This matter was in the hands of the public prosecutor's office, which would decide whether criminal charges should be brought. The offences involved - such as the assault allegedly committed by Renamo members against a polling station staff member in Beira - fall under the ordinary criminal law. They are not classified as "electoral disputes", and so do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Council.
After exhaustively refuting every point raised in the appeal, the Court found that Renamo had presented no legal basis for ordering a recount. The CNE had complied with the legal principles laid down, it said, and Renamo had failed to demonstrate that the national count suffered from any defect which should lead to its annulment.
Since the Supreme Court could not confirm any of the illegalities alleged by Renamo, the results announced on 22 December would stand.
Unlike the case of the 1998 local elections, where there was a dissenting opinion from two of the judges, this time all nine Supreme Court members who took part in the deliberations signed the ruling validating the results.
Speaking through its president, Mario Mangaze, the Court declared that the elections had occurred "in a free, fair, transparent and orderly fashion, in observance of the constitution and the law".
Mangaze summarised the entire proceedings from voter registration through to the count, and made clear that there were several aspects the Court was not happy about.
Thus during the voter registration, citizens whose 18th birthday fell between the final day of registration, 17 December, and the voting days of 3-5 December, were not allowed to register. The Court pointed out that this was in contradiction to the constitutionally enshrined principle that all citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote.
Mangaze revealed that several appeals had been made prior to the election against decisions of the CNE. Thus the Green Party appealed against the CNE decision to bar it from standing (because this party has suffered a severe split, with two factions each claiming to lead it).
The Liberal and Democratic Party (PALMO) appealed against the CNE registering the Democratic Union (UD) coalition, which PALMO once belonged to. PALMO wanted its former coalition partners to change the name of their grouping.
One would-be Frelimo candidate, Inocencio Jeremias, in the province of Tete, appealed against a CNE decision to reject his nomination papers.
The Supreme Court threw out all these appeals because they were not made in due time.
The appeal by the Mozambique United Front (FUMO) against the CNE's decision to bar it from participating in Renamo's "Electoral Union" coalition was another matter. This appeal was made promptly, and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of FUMO, arguing that the CNE had exceeded its powers.
A Renamo appeal for postponing the elections in the districts of Changara, Cahora Bassa and Magoe in the western province of Tete was rejected: the Supreme Court supported the CNE on this, on the grounds that the CNE has no power to delay elections whose dates have already been fixed.
As for the election itself, the Supreme Court noted that a handful of polling stations in Zambezia province could not open because of problems of heavy rains impeding access. This disenfranchised about 8,000 people. In several other cases, polling stations opened late. The court noted that, in most cases, there were no formal protests against these delays. During the three days of voting, 37 acts "of a criminal nature" were reported, from six of the country's 11 provincial constituencies, all in the centre and north of the country.
Mangaze said these incidents concerned offences such as attempting to vote twice, corrupting electoral staff, coercing voters to vote in a particular way, attempting to slip extra ballot papers into the ballot boxes, causing disturbances at polling stations, and falsifying polling station notices and other electoral documents.
"Most of these incidents were the subject of immediate intervention by the electoral authorities, who informed the police and the judicial authorities, notably the Public Prosecutor's Office", said the Supreme Court document. The Court believed that, in general, "the freedom of the vote, envisaged under the law" was effectively guaranteed, "The polling stations functioned regularly, in the conditions of order and discipline demanded by law", Mangaze added.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has rejected the Supreme Court ruling. Although there is no appeal against Supreme Court decisions, Dhlakama renewed his demand for a recount of the election results, and threatened that if his demand was not heeded "there will be problems in this country".
Dhlakama said Renamo did not accept the Supreme Court ruling "because there was no difference between that and what the chairman of the National Elections Commission (CNE) had already announced".
He claimed that the Supreme Court was just a creature of the ruling Frelimo Party. "We think there's no distance between Frelimo and the Supreme Court, and so we're not accepting and we propose a recount".
"What we heard today is the beginning of the end of democracy in Mozambique", menaced Dhlakama, "because the Court has played around with the people of Mozambique. The president of the court, Mario Mangaze, has played with the people. He didn't play around with Dhlakama, he played around with the people". Everything that Mangaze had said was "a lie", Dhlakama declared.
Dhlakama went even further and declared that the Supreme Court "depends on Chissano. It's a private institution of Chissano. It's a Frelimo court".
"We always said that democracy in Africa is riven with fraud", Dhlakama continued. "We always said that democracy in Africa is full of corruption. We would not like our country to follow what has been the historical path in Africa. We would like this country to continue to be an example in Africa, an example of democracy, but this example is betrayed by Frelimo".
Just as in Mozambique's first multi-party elections in 1994, so in this year's presidential and parliamentary elections the atmosphere has been thick with accusations of fraud made by Renamo and its coalition partners against the ruling Frelimo party and the government.
Fraud was alleged during voter registration, when Renamo claimed that "hundreds of thousands" of foreigners were registered and would later vote from Frelimo. But not a single actual foreigner in the flesh was found either registering or voting.
During and immediately after the vote, other claims were made. Mysterious "extra" ballot boxes were said to be stored in the port of Nacala, and would be switched for the real thing.
All this Renamo noise looks like a smokescreen. For the hard fact is that to date there has only been one major instance of documented fraud in the election - and it was carried out by Renamo staff in the northern province of Nampula.
Details of the Nampula fraud, and how it was detected appear in the Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin published by AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa).
The announcement of the Nampula results was delayed by several days: and among the factors behind the delay was that staff appointed by Renamo had tried to inflate the vote for the Renamo presidential candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, while proportionally diminishing the vote for his rival, incumbent President Joaquim Chissano.
The editor of the Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, Joseph Hanlon, writes that a total of six Renamo operators seem implicated. They had succeeded in bypassing two security checks "but were caught in the end".
The system used from the provincial counts was that each polling station notice (edital) giving the total votes for each candidate at that station is keyed in twice, by two operators selected at random, so that the first operator does not know who will key in the second time.
The computer only accepts an edital if both versions are the same. This check was designed mainly to avoid simple typing mistakes, but it should also reduce deliberate fraud.
Second, the computer checks the arithmetic, and does not accept an edital which does not add up.
The Renamo operators went to some lengths to circumvent the checks: they avoided the first check by forming pairs, and avoided the second by agreeing to transpose the results of Chissano and Dhlakama whenever Chissano received a higher number (by simply swapping numbers, the sum remained the same: the arithmetic would be correct, and so the computer would not detect the fraud).
But there was no way that fraudsters could circumvent the third check, which is a human one - vigilance by party agents.
Frelimo and Renamo both had monitors at most polling stations who took their own notes of the results and forwarded them to their party offices.
So party agents could check the data after it was input, and Frelimo agents discovered the changes.
The fraud could be reversed, because the computer keeps an "audit log" of all transactions. It was then possible to identify which data had been input by these pairs of operators, and do the input again.
The fraud discovered in Nampula is fairly sophisticated, and is unlikely to have been dreamed up by Renamo staff members on the spot. It must have been carefully thought out in advance.
This inevitably raises a serious question: did similar fraud take place in other provinces and go undetected?
One province in particular showed an anomalous result, and that was Zambezia. In general, Frelimo improved its vote in provinces that had been won by Renamo in 1994, while Renamo increased its vote in the areas generally regarded as Frelimo strongholds.
The major exception to this trend was Zambezia, where the party that won in 1994 - Renamo - did even better this time. President Chissano's share of the Zambezia vote fell from 38.6 per cent in 1994 to 28.2 per cent in 1999, and Frelimo lost three of its 18 parliamentary seats in the province. The Nampula fraud adds a nagging doubt. Was Frelimo in Zambezia rather less vigilant than Frelimo in Nampula?
At least six people who worked as polling station monitors for Renamo during the 3-5 December general elections, were injured on 29 December when Renamo security guards used force to disperse them from the party's headquarters in Maputo, as they demanded payment.
About 100 Renamo polling station monitors had gathered in front of the headquarters believing they would be paid 300,000 meticais each (about $22.)
Instead they were on the receiving end of the security men who used the butts of their AK-47 rifles to force the party monitors off the Renamo premises.
According to Noticias on 30 December, the demonstration only ended when police intervened.
A Renamo spokesman told the paper that the party had no more money to pay the men, and claimed it had already honoured its debt to the monitors.
President Joaquim Chissano has urged his countryman to unite in order to help improve living conditions for all in the year 2000.
Addressing the nation in his end-of-the year speech, President Chissano said "our aim is that life should improve for all Mozambicans", which meant that the progress the country has made in the areas of education, health and economic growth must be continued.
"Efforts to establish definitive social peace will only be totally achieved when we significantly decrease or eliminate the enormous differences that still persist in certain regions and provinces of our country", he said.
He hoped that he would not see for much longer a situation where some Mozambicans live in developed regions and others in underdeveloped ones. "We don't want to see perpetuated a situation in which some Mozambicans are living in the most backward places of the Third World without access to basic goods and services, while others live in the splendour of riches and well-being", he said.
Although the country Mozambicans inherited from colonial rule is full of deep economic and development divides, which cannot be eradicated in the five year term of office of a president or a parliament, President Chissano thought that the major economic projects now under way would contribute to the improvement of citizens' lives.
"It is important that the central and northern regions should have infrastructure that can be a springboard for the development that we all wish", he said, adding that the same is desired for the poorest regions of the southern provinces.
The main challenge for the future, said President Chissano, is to eradicate poverty, and consolidate the foundations of economic and social development already set.
A further important challenge mentioned by President Chissano was the fight against two major killer diseases - malaria and AIDS.
The governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Adriano Maleiane, on 29 December said that the country's economy grew by an estimated 10 per cent in 1999. Maleiane added that the government's target of keeping 1999 inflation to 5.5 per cent or less can still be met.
As regards the balance of payments, Maleiane thought that the country would continue registering levels of foreign exchange adequate to cover five months of imports.
"But one should mention the shift that occurred in 1999 that reflects a capital balance largely dominated by private sector funds, not only in terms of foreign direct investment but of foreign borrowing, fundamentally related with the implantation and development of some major projects", he said.
As for legal and institutional reforms, Maleiane noted that in 1999, 13 new banks and other financial institutions were authorised.
During the year, rules were introduced obliging credit institutions to publish their financial reports every six months, and the Mozambique Stock Exchange was opened.
Maleiane added that the central bank carried on with the management of monetary and exchange policies in a regular manner, with open market operations and improvement of the methodology for allocating hard currency.
He thought that the establishment of a healthy financial system would greatly help to reduce poverty in the country. Thus he recommended the opening of new banks and that their distribution throughout the country should not only reflect current economic growth, but also generate new poles of development.
As one way of tackling the chronic lack of access to credit in much of the country, Maleiane suggested the registration, licensing and operation of micro-finance institutions close to small producers.
Maleiane thought challenges for the financial system would include permanent renewal and technological upgrading in the provision of services, and increased access to banks which will be achieved through the reduction of costs and commissions on bank services, and the simplification of bureaucratic procedures.
The Mozambique Cotton Institute (IAM) believes that the target for the 1999 cotton harvest may be substantially exceeded, reports Noticias on 4 January.
The IAM's revised target was a marketed production of 96,000 tonnes of raw cotton. But in some areas, cotton is still in the hands of peasant farmers, and the IAM estimates that the final figure may reach 103,000 tonnes. In the previous campaign, 91,000 tonnes of cotton was marketed.
The future of the cotton sector looks sombre due to low world market prices for cotton. Currently the international price is around $650 a tonne: in 1995, it stood at around $2,000. This has pushed down the prices peasants receive, and some farmers are threatening to stop growing cotton. However, the prices of possible alternatives are also unfavourable.
This year's registration for compulsory military service began formally on 2 January, and will last until 28 February. The registration covers all citizens born in 1982, and anyone aged between 19 and 35 who, for whatever reason, failed to register in previous years.
Anyone who declines to register with the local administration by the end of February has an extra 30 days to "regularise" his or her military situation, but that will entail a visit to the Provincial Recruitment and Mobilisation Centre. Those who fail to register "shall be subject to sanctions in terms of the law".
Many consider the threat of sanctions empty: the vast majority of young people covered by the 1997 law on conscription failed to register, either in the "extraordinary registration period" of August- September 1998, or in the first ordinary period, of January- February 1999. No measures have been taken against them.
The 1998 registration resulted in the first new intake into the Mozambican Defence Force (FADM) since it was created in 1994, out of volunteers from both the old government army, the FAM/FPLM, and Renamo.
Somewhere between 750,000 and a million young Mozambicans should have registered during the "extraordinary" period. In fact, only 140,000 did, and of these only 1,000, all of them male, were conscripted.
This group of recruits ended their basic training at the Manhica Training Centre, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo, in December.
With less than 13,000 men, and facing severe financial constraints, the FADM would be unable to absorb more than a couple of thousand new recruits a year.
A new dredging vessel, built in Japan at a cost of $14.9 million, was delivered on 30 December to the publicly-owned Mozambican Dredging Company, EMODRAGA, and will start dredging the access channel to the port of Beira next week, according to a report in the Beira daily paper Diario de Mocambique.
The dredger, baptised "Aruangwa", was built by the company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and paid for by Japanese government aid money.
Its holds have a capacity of 1,000 cubic metres. This is the first new dredging vessel Mozambique has acquired since the country's independence in 1975. Up until now, the country has been dependent on the 37 year old dredger "Rovuma", to clear the access channels to the ports of Maputo, Beira and Quelimane.
The lack of dredging capacity has allowed serious silting to occur in Beira. The depth of the access channel has been reduced from nine to four metres, and its width, which used to vary between 135 to 250 metres, is now down to 60 metres.
As a result Beira, which should be able to receive ships of up to 50,000 tonnes, can currently only receive vessels of between 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes.
Mozambique News Agency
Fenner Brockway House
37/39 Great Guildford Street
London SE1 0ES
Tel: 0171 928 5657,
Fax 0171 928 5954
Return to index