Mozambique Political Process Bulletin: 2018 Local Elections

Nampula: Expect hard fought and closely watched election

Comboio Cuamba - Nampula, Moçambique

Comboio Cuamba - Nampula, Moçambique

Image by David Samuel Santos

The by-election on 24 January 2018 will take place only in Nampula city and only to elect a new mayor (presidente do município). The election is to replace the former mayor, Mahamudo Amurane, who was shot and killed on 4 October. Only those who were registered for the 2014 election in Nampula city can vote in the by-election. 

This will be the first time that all three parties in parliament - Frelimo, Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) - will be standing against each other in local elections. MDM was only formed after the 2008 municipal elections and Renamo boycotted municipal elections after that, including by-elections such as Quelimane in 2011. In the 2008 elections, MDM head Daviz Simango stood as an independent, and beat both the Renamo and Frelimo candidates. Nationally, in 2013 Frelimo candidates were elected mayor in 49 of 53 municipalities and in 2008 Frelimo candidates were elected mayor in 41 of 43 municipalities. The Nampula by-election will be the first indication of whether the opposition might win more municipalities in October 2018.

To be elected mayor, a candidate must have more than half the votes; if no one is elected, there is a second round between the two candidates with the most votes. Having three major parties in the race increases the chance of a second round.

Nampula will also be a test of how people respond to corruption scandals. The late mayor Mahamudo Amurane fell out with his party over alleged corruption and he had said he would stand as an independent in October 2018. And Frelimo is tainted by the $2 bn secret debt and corruption allegations.

Key dates

7 Dec - deadline for submitting mayoral candidates
9 Dec - CNE (National Elections Commission) posts list of accepted candidates
10 Dec-10 Jan - parties name members of polling station staff (
membros das mesas das assembleias de voto - MMV)
24 Dec - deadline to publish list of polling stations
25 Dec-4 Jan - parties name poll watchers for each polling station (
delegados de candidatures); credentials issued by 21 Jan.
9-21 Jan - electoral campaign
24 Jan - voting
25-26 Jan - results announced by Nampula city elections commission
The full official calendar, in Portuguese, is in the attached pdf of this newsletter

6 parties and one coalition register in Nampula

The three main parties - Frelimo, Renamo e MDM - registered with the National Elections Commission (Comissão Nacional de Eleições, CNE) to put forward candidates for mayor in the 24 January by-election. Two parties, one coalition, and one citizens' list also registered to name candidates. They are: 
+ PAHUMO - Partido Humanitário de Moçambique (Humanitarian Party), which has had one seat in the Nampula municipal assembly since 2013,
+ Partido Ecologista (Ecology Party), 
+ AMUSE, a Nampula citizens' group, and 
+ Esperança do Povo (People's Hope), a coalition of Partido Trabalhista (PT, Workers' Party), Partido Independente de Moçambique (PIMO, Independent Party) and Partido para a Paz, Democracia e Desenvolvimento (PDD, Party for Peace, Democracy and Development).
They must propose their candidates by 7 December.

Civil society plans observation and parallel count

The Election Observation Platform (Plataforma de Observação Eleitoral) was recently established to monitor municipal elections on 10 October 2018 and national elections in October 2019, but is now moving to monitor the Nampula by-election as well. 

The Platform includes the Centre to Study Development and Democracy (Centro de Estudos de Desenvolvimento e Democracia, CEDE), the Islamic Council (Conselho Islâmico), the Crhistian Council (Conselho Cristão), and the Catholic Church (Igreja Católica de Moçambique).

The Platform intends to observe all phases of the election, including accompanying the main candidates, being present in all polling stations, and keeping an eye on violence. Recruitment of local observers by the platform will take place this month, December, and they will be trained by EISA (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

A parallel count will also be carried out by the Platform. Counting of votes is done directly in the polling station, usually a school classroom, and the results posted on the door, which makes it possible to carry out an independent tabulation which serves as an important check on the official results.

Other civil society groups will also observe the by-election, and there is an attempt at coordination. "We want to make agreements so there is no duplication and to allow the information collected by the Platform to be shared by all organizations," said Amarilia Mutemba of CEDE.

MDM won delayed vote in 2013

In the 2013 election in Nampula city, citizens had to vote twice. On the first polling days, 20 November. Filomena Muturopa, the candidate for mayor for PAHUMO, was left off the ballot paper. And on the ballot paper for municipal assembly, for the Mozambique Democratic Movement, "Partido Movimento Democrático de Moçambique" appeared correctly with its initial MDM and symbol. Next came PDD and its symbol, but instead of the name Party for Peace, Democracy & Development, “Partido para a Paz e Democracia e Desenvolvimento”, the name "Partido Movimento Democrático de Moçambique" appeared again. Nevertheless, voting was allowed to continue, and only after the polls closed did the National Elections Commission (CNE) decide that the voting would have to take place again, on 1 December

The error was caused by the printer in South Africa, who failed to print the correct ballot paper, and not the electoral authorities, who had proofread and returned to the printer corrected ballot papers.

Turnout on 1 December 2013 in Nampula was only 26%, compared to a national turnout of 46% in the 20 November poll.

In 2013, MDM candidate Mahamudo Amurane was elected mayor with 54% of the vote and MDM won 24 of 45 assembly seats - Frelimo won 20 and Pahumo won a single seat.

The full table of results in 2013 is in the attached pdf.

Pilot registration delayed and moved

The calling of the Nampula by-election forced the pilot registration to be delayed and partly moved. The pilot in nine districts is intended to test equipment used in 2013 and 2014 to ensure it can be used again, to train staff from the Election Technical Secretariat (Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral, STAE), and to pilot changes in the registration system. It was supposed to have taken place 6-30 November in three districts in each of three provinces, Maputo, Sofala e Nampula. Districts were chosen which did not have municipal elections; the public was being asked to participate, but the voters cards issued would not be real. 

When the Nampula city by-election was called, the CNE decided to move the pilot registration to Cabo Delgada, in Ancuabe, Balama and Macomia districts, and to delay and shorten the pilot, which will now take place 4-20 December.

The pilot will cost $300,00 and mainly test the registration kits - computer, camera, fingerprint reader, printer and the device to seal the paper voters card in plastic.

STAE has been trying to move to a permanent electoral register, but the law calling for a new registration for each electoral cycle has not been changed. As part of this process, STAE will be testing a plastic voters card similar to a credit card which could be read electronically in the polling station.

1 December 2017

Editor: Joseph Hanlon (
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Detailed coverage of 2018 municipal and 2019 national elections will again be provided by the Mozambique Political Process Bulletin, which has covered all of Mozambique's multi-party elections. Again, we will have a large team of local journalists throughout the country, ensuring that our reports are accurate and verified. Publication is monthly during preparation periods but will become more frequent and we will publish daily in election periods.

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