Mozambique News Agency
Maputo, 2 Nov (AIM) - As of Monday morning, the Election Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service, had processed almost 90 per cent of the polling station results sheets from Wednesday's general elections.
The remaining ten per cent cannot significantly alter the current picture - which is that the incumbent president, Armando Guebuza, has won over three quarters of the votes cast, Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, has about 15 per cent, and the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, is on about nine per cent.
The latest results, from 11,357 of the 12,699 polling stations (89.4 per cent), were as follows:
Armando Guebuza (Frelimo): 2,624,564 (76.3 per cent)
Afonso Dhlakama (Renamo): 513,746 (14.9 per cent).
Daviz Simango (MDM): 303,585 (8.8 per cent)
From these figures some conclusions about turnout can be drawn. The remaining ten per cent of polling stations cannot possibly provide more than 350,000 valid votes (and probably considerably less, since many of the outstanding results sheets will come from smaller, rural polling stations).
If we assume that the same percentage of voters deposited blank or invalid ballots as in the 2004 presidential election (5.56 per cent), that gives an extra 210,829 votes. Add them all together and the maximum number of people who went to the polls last Wednesday is slightly more than four million.
The total registered electorate is 9,815,589. So turnout is 40.8 per cent.
All voter rolls, anywhere in the world, are inflated because inevitably some voters die between the date the roll was compiled and the date of the election. There are also voters who have registered more than once. This is not necessarily dishonest - merely that when the voter roll was updated in mid-2008 and again in mid-2009, a good number of people may not have understood that if they had already registered, they did not need to register again.
Death and duplications may knock up to 400,000 names off the voter roll, giving a true figure for the Mozambican electorate of 9.41 million. On this figure, the turnout was 42.5 per cent.
Such figures will come as a shock to those journalists and others who, dazzled by the long queues on Wednesday morning, announced that there had been a huge turnout. The lesson is clearly that elections should not be judged by initial impressions.
Clearly a lot of people obeyed the call made by all three presidential candidates that they should vote early and not leave it until the last minute. Voting early also meant they could spend the rest of the day, which had been declared a public holiday, on personal matters.
By late morning the queues had dwindled. Only in places such as the northern city of Lichinga, where the polling station staff were exceptionally slow did queues persist until the evening.
The turnout was a few percentage points higher than in 2004 - but the figures still mean that less than half the registered electorate bothered to vote. Unlike 2004, this cannot be blamed on the weather. There were no torrential rains anywhere in the country.
Again unlike 2004, the vast majority of polling stations opened on time, and there were very few reports of polling stations without a voter register or with the wrong register.
Some of the 2004 abstention was artificial, resulting from the fact that hundreds of result sheets were not processed, and so people who voted at those polling stations were not included in the figure. 699 presidential results sheets (5.4 per cent of the total) were excluded from the 2004 final figures - many because they had been stolen en route from the polling stations to the district and provincial capitals. This problem does not seem to have recurred, and the electoral bodies are confident that they will process the overwhelming majority of the results sheets.
Taking all these factors together, and it seems there was not much difference in the turnout between 2004 and 2009.