Mozambique's Constitutional Council on 15 January validated the results of the 19 November municipal elections, won overwhelmingly by the ruling Frelimo Party, but severely criticised the mistakes and illegalities committed by the body in charge of the elections, the National Elections Commission (CNE).
The five-member Council, set up last year, decides whether acts of state bodies violate the constitution, and acts as the last court of appeal in electoral disputes. It validates and declares the final results of elections, a job previously done by the Supreme Court.
The most serious problem detected by the Constitutional Council concerned the number of seats in the municipal assemblies. This is proportional to the size of the municipal electorate - and the CNE simply got it wrong.
On 21 October, the CNE published what was supposed to be a definitive list of the number of seats per municipal assembly. But then, on 6 December, more than a fortnight after the elections the CNE changed the numbers for several municipalities, to correct elementary mathematical blunders.
Thus the CNE gave the assembly in the western city of Tete 31 seats when, based on its current registered electorate, the figure should be 39. The CNE gave the assemblies in Montepuez, Mozambique Island, Monapo, Chibuto and Chokwe 17 members. In all these cases, the correct figure is 21. But the Constitutional Council has decided that the legal figures are those of 21 October. It would be "a serious illegality" to alter the number of seats in the assemblies even in the month prior to the elections - and in this case the changes had taken place after the voting.
The changes violated "the principles of security, stability, confidence and transparency that should guide the electoral process", the Constitutional Council proclaimed. Fixing the number of seats in due time was important, it claimed, because it conditioned the way in which the competing parties and independent groups organised themselves.
So the size of the assemblies returns to the 21 October figure: the law clashed with mathematics, and the law won.
This has few practical effects. Most of the seats that disappear are Frelimo ones. Thus in the town of Chokwe, in the southern province of Gaza, Frelimo still has every single seat in the municipal assembly - there were 21 of them, but now there are only 17.
Maputo loses three seats, all Frelimo ones - but it makes no difference to Frelimo's huge overall majority in the capital. Frelimo now has 48 seats in Maputo to eight for Renamo, and five for the independent group JPC ("Together for the City").
The Constitutional Council admitted that not all the problems could be laid at the door of the CNE. The country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, was also to blame for the late approval of the amended electoral laws, and for the late establishment of the electoral bodies.
Some of the deadlines in the legislation were "evidently unrealistic". One such deadline concerned the delivery of the results to the Constitutional Council for validation. The law states this has to happen within five days of voting. In fact, it was only on 4 December, 15 days after the polls closed, that the CNE drew up the final list of results from the 33 municipalities, and only on 8 December did it send the list to the Council.
Then the CNE found more mistakes in the list and corrected it. The corrected version did not reach the Constitutional Council until 18 December. The Council could not consider the appeals from the various parties until after they too had received copies of the corrected lists - which did not happen until 23 December.
Badly drafted legislation means that the Constitutional Council then had at least 33 days in which to analyse and validate the results. The Council's chairperson, Rui Baltazar, responding to criticism of the Council's alleged slowness in validating the results, pointed out that it would still be within the law if it delayed until February.
As for electoral complaints, some took an excessively long time to be decided, or to be passed from the CNE up to the Constitutional Council. This was because, at crucial moments, most of the CNE members were visiting the provinces, meaning that the CNE plenary could not meet because it had no quorum.
"This situation had implications for the speed and for the coherent sequence of events in the electoral process", the Council pointed out.
The Constitutional Council announced that it has rejected most appeals against the outcome of the municipal elections.
The appeals mostly came from the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition. Renamo's most serious demand was for a rerun of the elections in the central town of Mocuba, on the grounds that its candidate for mayor, Jose Manteigas, did not have enough time to campaign.
The CNE had disqualified Manteigas, alleging that he did not live in Mocuba. Manteigas appealed to the Constitutional Council, and it found in his favour, re-instating him in mid-November. But the Council rejected Manteigas' second appeal, on the grounds that there was no legal basis for cancelling the Mocuba result and holding new elections.
The Council rejected appeals from both Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party to disqualify various mayoral candidates. In all cases, these appeals had been made beyond the legal deadline.
Other Renamo appeals were rejected because Renamo failed to follow the correct legal procedures, and produced no legal arguments. As for a Renamo claim of an intimidatory police presence in the northern town of Cuamba, the Council found that Renamo had produced no evidence to back up this allegation.
Renamo also claimed that the CNE broke the law by delegating some of its powers to the electoral branch of the civil service, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE). Renamo had objected to STAE technicians doing the final tabulation of votes, and wanted the 19 members of the CNE to do this on their own, which would certainly have held up the proclamation of results for several more weeks, if not months.
The Constitutional Council pointed out that the law specifically states that, during electoral periods, STAE is fully subordinate to the CNE, and that it "organises, implements and guarantees technical-administrative activities in elections". That meant that it was perfectly legitimate to use the STAE staff to add up the figures from the thousands of polling station result sheets.
Renamo had also made claims about STAE arbitrarily altering the boundaries of various municipalities in order to exclude Renamo voters and include Frelimo ones. The Council could find no legal basis at all to this claim.
One serious complaint came from two independent groups, UPI (United for the Island) and GIDA (Angoche Independent Group), whose symbol was omitted from the ballot papers for the municipal assembly elections in Mozambique Island and Angoche, in the northern province of Nampula. In a country of mass illiteracy, symbols are important, and UPI and GIDA could argue they were seriously prejudiced by the omission of their symbols.
The CNE recognised that the ballot papers were irregular, but rejected the appeal on the grounds that the symbols would have made little or no difference to the result. Neither of these independent groups bothered to appeal to the Constitutional Council, so the Council could not overturn the CNE ruling. But it warned "one should not underestimate these incidents concerning the printing of ballot papers, since they violate the principle of equality of treatment. In future, conditions should be established so that similar situations cannot occur".
Serious problems occurred during the count in the country's second largest city of Beira. The count was interrupted when a Renamo-appointed technician refused to open a storehouse containing electoral material to which he had the key. When this problem was solved, a further interruption occurred when a Frelimo technician was detected making changes to several polling station sheets. Finally, ten polling station sheets disappeared altogether.
In response to this, the Constitutional Council stated that "although all these irregularities were overcome, the legal mechanisms should be activated to ascertain responsibilities and punish any illegal acts committed".
The Council was critical of the use by CNE and STAE of multiple electoral registers. A computerised register was supplemented by hand-written registers, largely because the June/July update of the registers had not yet been fed into the STAE computers. "In future, this practice should be avoided", the Constitutional Council recommended, "and just one, up-to-date register should be used".
Three quarters of Mozambique's municipal electorate did not cast their votes in the 19 November local elections. The final results, as validated on 15 January by the Constitutional Council put the total electorate of the 33 municipalities at 2,371,839, of whom only 573,140 voted. Depressing though this figure is, it is a marked improvement on the first municipal elections, in 1998, when less than 15 per cent of the electorate voted.
The definitive results of the elections show that the ruling Frelimo Party won in 28 municipalities and the opposition Renamo- Electoral Union won in four. In the 33rd municipality, Marromeu, a Renamo candidate was elected mayor, but Frelimo won a narrow majority in the municipal assembly. The full results for the Assemblies, after these alterations are:
Cabo Delgado province
Frelimo 9,882 (65.51%) 21 seats
Renamo 4,546 (30.14%) 10 seats
PT 357 (2.37%)
PIMO 300 (1.99%)
Frelimo 8,533 (80.21%) 14 seats
Renamo 2,105 (19.79%) 3 seats
Mocimboa da Praia
Frelimo 3,467 (50.72) 7 seats
Renamo 3,369 (49.28%) 6 seats
Frelimo 8,343 (65.96%) 21 seats
Renamo 4,153 (32.83%) 10 seats
SOL 153 (1.21%)
Frelimo 3,751 (63.20%) 20 seats
Renamo 1,986 (33.46%) 10 seats
PIMO 198 (3.34%) 1 seat
Frelimo 1,305 (88.12%) 12 seats
Renamo 176 (11.88%) 1 seat
Frelimo 14,554 (54.35%) 24 seats
Renamo 11,315 (42.25%) 19 seats
PIMO 909 (3.39%) 1 seat
Renamo 15,425 (57.21%) 23 seats
Frelimo 9,818 (36.41%) 15 seats
OCINA 858 (3.56%) 1 seat
PIMO 537 (1.98%)
PT 230 (0.86%)
Renamo 3,902 (52.68%) 10 seats
Frelimo 2,700 (36.45%) 6 seats
UPI 533 (7.20%) 1 seat
PIMO 272 (3.67%)
Frelimo 2,515 (51.7%) 9 seats
Renamo 2,350 (48.3%) 8 seats
Renamo 7,307 (53.07%) 17 seats
Frelimo 5,572 (40.47%) 13 seats
PIMO 473 (3.44%) 1 seat
GIDA 417 (3.03%)
Frelimo 11,001 (50.90%) 21 seats
Renamo 9,513 (44.02%) 18 seats
IPADE 390 (1.80%)
PALMO 292 (1.35%)
UNAMO 173 (0.81%)
PIMO 136 (0.63%)
PT 104 (0.48%)
Frelimo 1,678 (69.95%) 10 seats
Renamo 577 (24.05%) 3 seats
UNAMO 144 (6.00%)
Frelimo 4,324 (72.64%) 16 seats
Renamo 1,494 (25.10%) 5 seats
PALMO 135 (2.27%)
Frelimo 3,055 (70.55%) 12 seats
Renamo 1,006 (23.23%) 4 seats
UM 269 (6.21%) 1 seat
Frelimo 15,227 (74.67%) 23 seats
Renamo 5,765 (25.33%) 8 seats
Frelimo 4,264 (68.95%) 10 seats
Renamo 1,582 (25.58%) 3 seats
PACODE 253 (3.80%)
UNAMO 103 (1.67%)
Frelimo 13,260 (58.63%) 24 seats
Renamo 8,702 (38.40%) 15 seats
PIMO 268 (1.18%)
PACODE 236 (1.04%)
PT 190 (0.83%)
Frelimo 3,454 (80.00%) 11 seats
Renamo 824 (19.86%) 2 seats
PT 89 (0.04%)
Frelimo 2,247 (78.37%) 11 seats
Renamo 522 (19.60%) 2 seats
PT 58 (2.02%)
Renamo 31,140 (54.54%) 25 seats
Frelimo 23,553 (41.25%) 19 seats
IPADE 1,766 (3.09%) 1 seat
PIMO 637 (1.12%)
Frelimo 6,314 (59.40%) 13 seats
Renamo 3,554 (33.44%) 7 seats
IPADE 761 (7.16%) 1 seat
Frelimo 1,933 (50.22%) 7 seats
Renamo 1,916 (49.78%) 6 seats
Frelimo 6,156 (85.10%) 15 seats
Renamo 830 (11.47%) 2 seats
PT 248 (3.43%)
Frelimo 6,861 (86.09%) 27 seats
Renamo 1,109 (13.91%) 4 seats
Frelimo 3,039 (84.86%) 12 seats
Renamo 378 (10.56%) 1 seat
PIMO 164 (4.58%)
Frelimo 18,115 (93.82%) 30 seats
Renamo 753 (3.90%) 1 seat
PT 276 (1.43%)
PE 165 (0.85%)
Frelimo 9,213 (92.18%) 16 seats
Renamo 782 (7.82%) 1 seat
Frelimo 9,941 (95.85%) 17 seats
Renamo 430 (4.15%)
Frelimo 1,837 (95.68%) 13 seats
Renamo 83 (4.32%)
Frelimo 43,944 (85.82%) 41 seats
Renamo 5,961 (1.62%) 5 seats
PE 722 (1.41%)
PT 580 1.13%
Frelimo 5,606 (83.05%) 16 seats
Renamo 665 (9.85%) 1 seat
PT 326 (7.10%)
Frelimo 95,631 (76.22%) 48 seats
Renamo 16,026 (12.75%) 8 seats
JPC 10,083 (8.02%) 5 seats
AMAR 1,180 (0.94%)
PIMO 920 (0.73%)
PT 800 (0.64%)
PE 671 (0.53%)
PVM 340 (0.27%)
Renamo has accepted the results of the 19 November municipal elections, but maintained its criticisms of the CNE.
At a press conference in Maputo on 16 January, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama praised the Constitutional Council for the sharp criticisms it had made of the mistakes and illegalities committed by the body that organised the elections, the CNE. He thought the Council was "competent, credible and courageous", because "it had the courage to criticise the CNE".
He then launched into an attack on the CNE and the STAE, claiming that they were just "instruments" of Frelimo.
Dhlakama wanted to change the composition of the CNE (which has a narrow Frelimo majority), and declared "we will only have fair general elections if the constitution of the CNE and STAE is impartial and their operations transparent".
Dhlakama launched a bitter attack on STAE general director Antonio Carrasco. "We aren't going to negotiate anything", he declared. "Carrasco must leave now because his time is over. We'll take him out of STAE tomorrow".
The law states that the post of general director of STAE must be advertised: but there is nothing to stop Carrasco applying for it. Outside of the ranks of Renamo and its allies, he is generally regarded as a competent and dedicated official, and he is certainly the most experienced electoral officer Mozambique has.
Dhlakama claimed the municipal elections were neither fair nor transparent, because of "the persistent manoeuvres and political terrorism of Frelimo in order to remain in power".
But he remained optimistic. "We have proved that even with Frelimo's political terrorism, with systematic frauds and other outrages against democracy, we can win", Dhlakama said.
"We won what we could", Dhlakama said, "but we had our limitations. To wage our campaign we often had to go on foot, while our main opponent was using vehicles and other resources belonging to the state".
"We shall go across the country explaining what really happened in these elections", he added. "We shall thank those who gave us their votes in all the municipalities, those we won and those we lost. At the same time we shall prepare our victory in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections".
The mass vaccination against cholera in Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, ended with 81.7 per cent of those who took the first dose of the oral vaccine in December returning this month for the second dose. In absolute figures, 53,980 people took the first dose, and 44,111 came back for the second.
According to deputy national health director Avertino Barreto, speaking at a press conference on 15 January, this can be regarded as a success because in general, when vaccines involve two doses, only 70-72 per cent of those who took the first dose return for the second dose.
The vaccine was administered in the Beira neighbourhood of Esturro, and Barreto hoped that at least 60 per cent of this neighbourhood's population would now be protected against cholera for the next two or three years.
"If the vaccine proves effective, the possibility will be open for expanding its use to other areas at risk of cholera outbreaks", said Barreto. He pointed out that vaccination is much cheaper than treatment. Keeping cholera victims alive in the special cholera wards costs $30 to $35 per patient, and this figure does not include staff costs.
The oral vaccine has given good results on a limited scale in India and Afghanistan, but the Beira experiment was the first time that it has been administered massively, to an entire population. The results will thus be important, not only for Mozambique, but for many other developing countries where cholera is a serious threat.
The challenge facing the health authorities now, Barreto said, is to follow up those who took the vaccine and check that they really are immune to cholera.
Meanwhile the number of diagnosed cholera cases is continuing to rise in Maputo, Beira, and the district of Massingir, in the southern province of Gaza.
According to a report in the Maputo daily "Noticias", 104 new cases entered the cholera treatment ward in Maputo's Mavalane General Hospital on 14 January. That brought the number of people under treatment in the centre to 215, against 173 the previous day.
In Beira there were 25 new cases, which brought to 208 the total number of cholera cases diagnosed in Sofala province. Most of these cases are in Beira, but a few have been reported from Maringue district.
As for Massingir, just one more case was diagnosed, bringing the total to 101. Of these only four were still undergoing treatment on Wednesday.
The basic precautions to take against cholera seem quite easy - notably ensuring that drinking water is clean, which can be achieved by boiling the water first, thus killing the micro- organisms that cause cholera. But even this is far from simple in poor urban neighbourhoods. Some cholera victims interviewed by AIM in the Mavalane treatment centre said they did not boil their water, because of the cost of firewood or charcoal.
Over a million Mozambican children of school age will be unable to attend primary school in 2004 for sheer lack of space in the classrooms.
According to Virgilio Juvane, the National Director of Planning in the Education Ministry, it is mainly the shortage of schools and of teachers that leads to this situation. The million children in question are aged between six and 13 and should, in principle, be studying in first and second level primary education (grades one to seven).
Juvane told AIM that the problem can only be overcome gradually by expanding the school network and training more teachers. Complicating matters is the "accumulated deficit of children who did not enter school in previous years, either for lack of space or because their parents did not enrol them in time". In principle children should be enrolled in first grade when they are six years old: but because of the problems of the past, first grade also includes many children who are considerably older than six.
Despite all the difficulties, many more children will be studying this year than in 2003. Thanks to the building of new schools last year, in 2004 the Ministry expects to enrol 731,000 children in first grade (which compares with the 685,000 places available last year).
But Juvane noted that, according to the 1997 census, there are only 547,000 six year olds in the country. "That shows we are able to absorb all the six year olds", he said. "But it doesn't happen, because we have a very large number of older children who were not enrolled in previous years".
"To put a million more children into the education system, operating two shifts in the schools, we need at least 10,000 more classrooms", he said. And at the current pace this would take about ten years. However, Juvane was optimistic that the pace of building new schools will speed up as from this year. A new construction project, if properly implemented, could lead to the building of 6,000 classrooms a year.
Many more teachers must also be trained. The current teacher/pupil ratio in primary schools is one to 64. The Ministry wants to bring this down to 50 pupils per teacher. But this requires money, not least to pay the teachers' wages, and the Mozambican government is under pressure from the IMF to cut back its wages bill. A further major problem for the Mozambican education system is that the number of places available declines dramatically the higher up one goes. The vast majority of pupils are concentrated in the first five grades. This year there are only 197,000 places available in grade six, and just 56,000 in grade eight, the start of secondary education. In grade 11, there are a mere 11,000 places.
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