With the Mozambican election campaign now in its second week,both the main contenders for the presidency are campaigning hard north of the Zambezi. Presidential and parliamentary elections take place on 1-2 December, with the electoral campaign lasting from 17 October and 28 November.
Setting himself a punishing pace, the general secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party, Armando Guebuza, has campaigned across Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces.
Niassa was a province once regarded as a Frelimo stronghold, but which gave the party an unpleasant shock in 1999, when Renamo took seven of its 13 parliamentary seats. Frelimo is optimistic that it will turn the tables this time round, especially given its firm showing in the 2003 local elections, in which Frelimo won in all three Niassa municipalities (Lichinga, Cuamba and Metangula).
The report on Guebuza's campaign in the daily paper "Noticias" claims that the crowds welcoming him have been surprisingly large, even in Cuamba, where he arrived on 24 October. The airport was packed with supporters, and thousands of people joined Guebuza's motorcade from the airport into the city.
Guebuza's wife, Maria da Luz, is also campaigning for her husband. She is a biologist who works in the Environment Ministry, and Frelimo is promoting her as a forthright politician in her own right: a Frelimo political party broadcast televised on 24 October, and aimed at women voters, was dominated by Maria da Luz.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has spent the last four days touring the central province of Zambezia. This was where Renamo had its best result in 1999, increasing its number of parliamentary seats from 29 to 34 (out of 49).
Dhlakama's campaign speeches have centred on his promise to build a genuine rule of law in Mozambique, and to separate the state from the ruling party. In the district of Gurue, he declared "the state is Frelimo. All functionaries of the state are obliged to be members of Frelimo". "Today, there's no rule of law", Dhlakama declared. "Anyone who doesn't agree with Frelimo is considered an enemy".
A few clashes between Frelimo and Renamo supporters have been reported. One of the most serious was on Mozambique Island, off the Nampula coast, at the weekend: Frelimo members were accused of attacking the home of the mayor, Renamo member Gulamo Mamudo (Mozambique Island was one of five municipalities won by Renamo in the 2003 local elections).
Mamudo claimed that the Frelimo supporters smashed doors and windows in his house. "They started this", he claimed, "and if we reply it will be very tough, and we don't want to go to those extremes".
Frelimo official Martinha Benfica accused Renamo of trying to ban Frelimo marches on Mozambique Island. "Renamo wants to see Frelimo confined to a corner, and not doing any campaigning", she claimed.
The National Elections Commission (CNE) on 22 October rejected an attempt by Renamo to disqualify three of the five presidential candidates.
Renamo alleged that the candidatures of Raul Domingos, Yaqub Sibindy and Carlos Reis, should be regarded as invalid because they are also standing in the parliamentary election.
Domingos is the leader of the Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD). He used to be the number two in Renamo, but was expelled in 2000. Sibindy heads the Independent Party of Mozambique (PIMO), which is a thinly disguised Islamic party, while Reis is the candidate for the Front for Change and Good Governance (FMGB), which is a coalition between his own party, UNAMO (Mozambique National Union), and PARTONAMO (Party of All Mozambican Nationalists).
Renamo does not want the opposition vote is divided between four candidates, and therefore sought to reduce the presidential election to a contest between Afonso Dhlakama and Armando Guebuza.
Renamo's argument is that "plural candidatures" are illegal - but the law defines a "plural candidature" as standing on more than one parliamentary list. Thus a person who stood on the lists of two different parties, or for the same party but on the lists for two different provincial constituencies, would be disqualified. But the law does not prevent citizens standing both for president and for parliament. Indeed, in the first multi-party elections, in 1994, several of the 12 presidential candidates also stood for parliament, and nobody objected.
The CNE's argument is that, since there is no express prohibition on citizens standing simultaneously for the presidency and for parliament, they are allowed to do so.
The CNE on 14 October drew lots to determine the positioning of the various presidential candidates on the ballot papers in the forthcoming general elections.
The result was that Raul Domingos will come on top of the ballot papers, followed byArmando Guebuza, Yakub Sibinbi, Afonso Dhlakama and Carlos Reis.
The CNE also drew lots on the time to be allocated on the Radio Mozambique and the Mozambique Television (TVM).
Frelimo's Armando Guebuza has pledged, if elected to defend all the constitutional rights and freedoms enjoyed by Mozambican citizens. In his personal manifesto to the electorate, Guebuza makes the "solemn pledge" to "respect diversity of opinion, freedom of expression and promote freedom of the press".
"I shall continue to open greater space for the participation of more citizens and of civil society in decision making", Guebuza promises.
His manifesto also includes a commitment to fight "obstacles to development" including red tape, negligence, crime and corruption "with its pretension to become an alternative means of accumulating wealth".
"This fight will be waged as part of the efforts to improve the services provided to the public", Guebuza added.
He invited the electorate "to make my vision yours, so that together we can improve our quality of life, together do away with absolute poverty, together live in a safe society, free of corruption, together develop our self-esteem, together guarantee the proper functioning of our institutions and together defend our sovereignty".
The struggle against poverty, Guebuza argued, must involve "a partnership with the business class, since this helps us in our dialogue with international partners and with attracting foreign investment".
So Guebuza stressed his commitment to developing Mozambican businesses "to guarantee an increase in employment and in national wealth". "We need continued economic growth in order to overcome poverty", he added. "So I pledge to continue encouraging private investment, national and foreign, and to continue improving our relationship with international financial institutions".
Guebuza promised greater attention to the rural areas where the majority of the population live. "I see in the development and modernisation of agriculture the key to defeating absolute poverty", he said. "I shall therefore promote the use of improved seeds and of appropriate and sustainable technologies, in order to increase significantly agricultural production and productivity, in quantity and quality".
He pledged to improve the agricultural marketing system, through better roads to productive areas, and greater access to credit.
Transport would be another priority for a Guebuza government: notably the conclusion of a new bridge over the Zambezi river, linking the north and south of the country.
He also promised to improve services to the public in the country's hospitals, and step up the battle against such diseases as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and cholera.
As for the country's schools, "I shall fight for an improvement in the quality of education at all levels", said Guebuza. "I shall pay special attention to technical and professional education, as one of the factors that can speed up development".
Guebuza stressed that he would continue the work of his predecessors, Eduardo Mondlane (the founder and first president of Frelimo), the country's first leader, Samora Machel, and the current president, Joaquim Chissano. He hoped to "give greater dynamism to the process of building our project for society that we began more than four decades ago".
Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama has again declared his confidence that the monitoring mechanisms in place will guard against "theft of votes" in this year's general elections.
Speaking to reporters on his arrival on 21 October in Quelimane, capital of the Zambezia province, Dhlakama declared that this time "everything is under control", and there would be no "manipulation" of the electoral results by the ruling Frelimo Party.
"We've opened our eyes", he said. "The electoral law will greatly help us control the steps of those who have manipulated votes in the past".
Dhlakama also said that a future Renamo government will not allow the "systematic delays" in paying teachers their wages that characterise the current education system.
He also stated that in the judicial system, many criminal cases had been shelved because they involve important figures within Frelimo.
Dhlakama's arrival in Quelimane sparked off a row between Renamo and Radio Mozambique. Renamo submitted a paid advertisement to the Radio's Zambezia provincial station, announcing Dhlakama's arrival in Quelimane - but the radio returned Renamo's cheque, and said such advertisements could not be aired during the election campaign.
The radio's argument is that it is already airing, free of charge, the party political broadcasts recorded by all the candidates in the elections. The law establishes a level playing field, with all the competing parties entitled to the same broadcasting time. This balance would be upset, if the radio grants more air time to those parties who can pay for it.
Renamo accused the radio of censorship, but the radio countered that it has passed the information about Dhlakama's arrival on to the news desk to ensure that it was covered.
Meanwhile, in the southern province of Gaza, Renamo claimed that it was the victim of police harassment. The head of the Renamo parliamentary list in Gaza, Jeremias Pondeca, told the newsheet "Mediafax", that he and a dozen other Renamo members had been hauled off on 21 October to the police command in the town of Manjacaze.
Pondeca said they had been intercepted on the public highway by police, who were blocking off roads for a parade by supporters of Frelimo. They were taken to the police command where they were told "you have no authorisation to campaign in this district".
If Pondeca's accusation is true, this is a serious police violation of Mozambican electoral legislation which does not impose any requirement on political parties to seek authorisation before campaigning. The law specifically states that any candidate or party "may freely carry out their election campaign in any part of Mozambican territory". Parties are supposed not to request authorisation, but simply to notify the police and local authorities of any march or demonstration, at least 12 hours in advance.
Adding to Renamo's woes was the defection of its delegate in the Gaza district of Chokwe, Damiao Mandlaze. On 21 October he publicly abandoned Renamo and immediately joined Frelimo. The head of the Frelimo press office in Gaza, Azarias Xavier, told reporters that, at his own request, Mandlaze had been incorporated into the Frelimo canvassing brigades in Chokwe.
Raul Domingos, leader of the Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD), on 20 October accused Frelimo and Renamo of intimidation, aimed at hindering his party's campaign for the December general elections.
"It's premature to draw up any balance sheet after only three days of campaigning", he told AIM. "But what we have noted is acts of intimidation, carried out by the two main political forces, intended to reduce the impact of the PDD's campaign".
He said that in the central province of Sofala, a woman member of the PDD suffered injuries when she was beaten up by Renamo supporters. There is considerable bitterness between the PDD and Renamo: Domingos used to be the number two in Renamo, and set up the PDD after his expulsion from Renamo in 2000.
Domingos also claimed that his party is suffering harassment from Frelimo. He said that in Manhica district, Maputo province, a PDD member had fled his house and gone into hiding after he heard that a group of Frelimo supporters were coming after him.
Reports from around the country make it clear that although over 20 parties and coalitions registered to contest these elections, only three forces - Frelimo, Renamo and the PDD - are undertaking serious campaigning. These are the parties that have organised rallies across Mozambique, and have produced competent party political broadcasts. They started campaigning with their own funds, rather than waiting for the state subsidy offered to competing parties.
A fourth party, the Independent Party of Mozambique (PIMO), has shown a sporadic presence mainly in the north, while the Labour Party (PT) has shown up on the streets of Maputo, calling for the restoration of the death penalty.
The National Elections Commission (CNE) has announced that "technical conditions" will be established during the count of votes cast in the December general elections that will allow observers and journalists to follow the computerisation of data.
In a press release received by AIM on 22 October, the CNE announced that this arrangement will allow access to the vote tabulation. Alongside the electoral computer centre "a window will be placed allowing observation of data processing at a distance, without the observers being able to contact or speak with the operators during their work, in line with the rules in force in the CNE".
This release is the CNE's response to the demand by the European Union that observers should have full access to all stages of the count, and not merely the primary count at the polling stations. In the past problems have arisen, not so much in the initial count at the polling stations - everyone agrees that this is extremely transparent - but in the tabulation of the polling station results sheets into provincial, and later national results.
The EU wanted its observers to be present at the rooms in the provincial capitals, and in the CNE itself, where tabulation takes place. The CNE release continues to insist that observers may not be present at meetings of electoral bodies "since this is an activity which is not public in nature".
There has been no official response from the EU to the CNE's announcement. However, the row over observers has failed to disappear, with the editor of the "Mozambique Political Process Bulletin", Joe Hanlon, accusing the CNE of making no concessions at all to demands from the European Union for greater transparency.
Hanlon argues that there is no real change from past procedures, and that the proposal of allowing for a window for observation was "useless, because all an observer can see is people keying in data". If the figures themselves cannot be observed, it is impossible to verify them.
Hanlon warns that should the margin of victory be less than two per cent, then operations by the CNE could be of crucial importance, and if nobody can observe them, the shadow of doubt will remain. "Giving observers and the press more access would at least reduce the possible space for manipulation", Hanlon points out. "An alternative would be to make public much more information about the decisions taken by the CNE and a much more detailed tabulation of the final results. It would not be difficult to post on a website polling station by poling station results".
The European Union observation mission will headed by a Spanish member of the European parliament, Jose Javier Pomes Ruiz. According to a press statement issued by the European Commission's office in Maputo, the EU mission will include about 90 members - including some invited from two non-EU countries, Switzerland and Norway. The budget for this observer mission is €2.24 million (about $2.5 million) made available from the European Commission's Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights.
The spokesperson for the CNE, Filipe Mandlate, on 20 October told AIM that it has disqualified three organisations that sought to participate in the parliamentary elections.
One of these, the MDMS, was ruled out because it is not a political party, but a group of like-minded citizens. While groups of citizens may contest municipal elections, the law states that only registered political parties, or coalitions of parties, may run candidates in parliamentary elections.
The Progressive Liberal Party of Mozambique (PPLM) was disqualified because it was unable to produce the documentation required by law, Mandlate said. The PPLM is the creation of one of the more eccentric figures in Mozambican politics, Neves Serrano, who in 1993 claimed that his party had 3.8 million members. In the 1994 elections he took $50,000 from a UN-run trust fund for political parties, and then did not stand a single candidate.
Serrano also tried to run in this year's presidential election, but his nomination papers were thrown out because almost all of the supporting signatures they contained were clearly fraudulent, for which Serrano may end up in court.
Mandlate said the CNE also disqualified a coalition that flamboyantly called itself the "Grand Opposition" (GO). This consisted of two tiny groups, the Democratic Congress Party (PACODE), and the Mozambique National Party (PANAMO). The latter is headed by Marcos Juma, who in 2001 was found guilty of counterfeiting foreign currency, and given a suspended two year prison sentence.
The GO was disqualified because it had failed to register as a coalition with the Ministry of Justice.
The same fate almost overtook a second coalition, the Broad Opposition Front (FAO), consisting of the Liberal Front (FL) and the African Conservative Party (PAC). It too was not registered with the Ministry. However FAO officials could prove to the CNE that the two parties had submitted the documents formalising the coalition to the Ministry of Justice before they had registered with the CNE for the elections. The Ministry had not yet replied, but the CNE ruled that this was no fault of the FAO.
Mandlate said the CNE has not yet decided on whether to allow the Democratic Party of National Reconciliation (PAMOMO) to compete. Two people claim to be president of this party, and both have written to the CNE - one stating that PAMOMO wishes to stand candidates, and the other saying that PAMOMO is not taking part in the election. "The matter is still open", said Mandlate. "We haven't decided who really represents PAMOMO".
As for the other 20 parties and coalitions registered for the elections, Mandlate thought they all stood a good chance of being cleared, though the CNE was still going through the paperwork for all of their candidates, checking their eligibility.
An opinion poll conducted by the Higher Polytechnic and University Institute (ISPU), one of Mozambique's private universities, has suggested that, if general elections were held now, Frelimo and its presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, would win by a landslide, taking some 70 percent of all votes cast.
This is the second poll undertaken by ISPU. The first, in July, gave Guebuza 57.7 percent to just 27 percent for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
In this poll, conducted between 27 September and 8 October, Guebuza has moved even further ahead, with 72.8 percent to 23.6 percent for Dhlakama.
The poll, published in "Savana" before the campaign began, took a sample of 10,668 potential voters, distributed throughout all 11 provincial constituencies, covering a selection of both urban and rural areas.
The pollsters did run into problems which might have affected the reliability of the poll - ISPU noted "deliberate obstruction of the work of the pollsters by the local authorities", as well as the inexperience of the students who conducted the poll, and the fact that some of them were not fluent in local languages.
The great majority of those polled - 88.5 percent - said they intended to vote, and 85.6 percent said they know who the presidential candidates are.
Once the "won't votes" and "don't knows" have been discounted, 72.8 percent said they would vote for Guebuza, and 23.6 percent for Dhlakama. In a distant third position came Raul Domingos, head the Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD). Two percent of the sample said they would vote for Domingos, 1.5 percent would vote for Yacub Sibindy, leader of PIMO, and only six people (0.1 percent) said they would vote for Carlos Reis, leader of the Mozambique National Union (UNAMO).
As for the parliamentary election, 72.5 percent said they would vote for Frelimo, and 24.4 percent for Renamo. 1.4 percent would vote for PIMO and 1.1 percent for the PDD.
One remarkable finding of this poll is that, were the elections held now, Guebuza and Frelimo would win in every single province. Some of these figures are not credible: the poll gives Guebuza 90 percent of the vote in Tete, where the majority of the electorate voted for Renamo in both 1994 and 1999. It is hard to imagine that Guebuza can really do better in Tete than in the Frelimo heartland of Gaza, where the poll gives him 79.6 percent.
This will be the last poll published before the election results are announced as the electoral law states that no opinion polls may be published between the start of the campaign and the declaration of the results.
Construction has begun on the titanium mineral mine at Moma, on the coast of the northern province of Nampula: inauguration of the work on 18 October coincided with the visit to the district of Armando Guebuza, general secretary of Frelimo, and its candidate in the December elections.
According to the Irish-based mining company Kenmare Resources, the mine will cost $450 million . The heavy sands in Moma district contain world class deposits of titanium minerals. It is planned to produce 612,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 24,000 tonnes of zircon and 12,500 tonnes of rutile per year.
Finance for the mine is coming from a several sources including the African Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, KfW (German Development Bank), and the European Investment Bank, which is the long term financing institution of the European Union,.
Once operational the mine is expected to earn exports averaging at $75 million per year, totalling $1.5 billion over its lifetime. The mine could contribute up to 2.4 percent per year to Mozambique's Gross Domestic Product.
The construction phase will take two years, during which it is expected to employ 1,200 people directly. Once operational the mine will employ 436 workers. It is estimated that about 1,500 more jobs will be created in the ancillary and support services required by the project.
Kenmare are determined to get the mine into production as soon as possible, and have already signed contracts for the sale of more than half of the planned output. According to Charles Carvill, Chairman of Kenmare, "the world market for titanium minerals is strengthening solidly. Our task is to get the mine into production as rapidly as possible".
Kenmare says there is a growing shortfall in world titanium feedstock supply, which will be met from new projects. Kenmare believes that the Moma mine will be at the forefront of meeting this demand because of its competitive advantages of being near to major shipping routes, the fact that the heavy sands are on the surface and because electricity is relatively cheap in Mozambique.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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