June 12, 2024

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Mozambique: Thousands Fail to Register Due to Slowness and ‘Breakdowns’

9 min read

Final day confirmed that machine breakdowns really are manipulation

In many posts in the districts dominated by the opposition in central and northern Mozambique, the registration posts on Saturday closed at between 17.00 and 21.00, because the electricity company (EDM) ordered a series of interruptions of electric current, and because STAE district directors ordered that computer breakdowns be declared.

Hence, thousands of potential voters were unable to register in these districts. In some districts in Sofala, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa provinces, by 21.00 all the posts were closed, using the allegation that the machines were out of order, But in the south, most of the posts operated until midnight.

During the 45 days of registration, these districts were characterized by blocking opposition voters and by prioritizing lists of people from non-municipal districts (for more details, see Bulletin 78). The districts most affected were Gurue, Milange, and Alto Molocue in Zambezia; Marromeu, Caia, Nhamatanda and Beira, in Sofala; Mandimba and Cuamba in Niassa; and all the districts in Nampula.

In Sofala, thousands could not register due to slowness and “breakdowns”

There was a strengthened police contingent at the posts that were still registering voters in Sofala on Saturday, the final day of registration, and machines “broke down” constantly. Declaring that mobiles have “broken down” is one of the techniques used to block registration of people believed likely to vote for the opposition (see more details here).

In Beira many posts were working until the close, but were affected by “breakdowns” and slowness in attending to voters, which caused discontent and long queues (see photos). At the Sansao Mutemba Secondary School, by 20.00 the machine had supposedly broken down. The technicians had not yet appeared. The potential voters gave up. In the 12 October EPC, voter registration was paralysed because the computer was not restarting. The supervisor promised that the technician was on his way, but they never arrived. There was an enormous queue, but eventually the voters gave up. At Sansao Mutemba Secondary School, the machine was out of order from 16.00.

The posts at Aeroporto EPC and Jorge Traquino ESG in Beira were full of voters trying to register, until the close of the post. Voters complaining of the slowness of the registration invaded the post at the Chota EPC. In Manga neighbourhood, some voters dropped out of the queue at Manga Loforte EPC because of the crowd, allegedly because they could not register before midnight.

In the town of Caia, the problem was electricity, and some posts were forced to stop registration for lack of power, for example at Chandimba EPC. In the Amilcar Cabral post, registration was taking place but slowly. There were more than 300 people crowded together waiting to register. The post closed with many people not registered. There was a similar scene in the 4 October EPC.

In Marromeu, there were large crowds in some posts, but registration was slow. This caused some agitation in the queues, and some citizens insulted the brigade members. In the 25 September EPC, the brigade members took a long time to register each voter. This blocking technique is called “sleeping on the computer” (for more details, see Bulletin 96). In Marromeu posts at Nhane EPC, Acordos de Lusaka, and Joaquim Chissano closed their activities by 18.00 for lack of lighting. These three posts closed even with some voters still at the door, waiting to register. The brigade members claimed the conditions did not exist to continue registration because the machines use a solar panel and by 18.00 they were beginning to run out of charge. The mobile at the Acordos de Luska School began to restart, without anyone touching it. Those at Joaquim Chissano and Nhane were only switched off.

In Nhamatanda, registration was also slow, which caused confusion until the posts closed. At the Jossias Tongogara EPC protection police and riot police had to boost security. The post at the Sebastiao Marcos Mabote EPC, closed at around 18.00, allegedly because there were no voters.

In Zambézia, many posts closed between 17.00 and 21.00.

In Gurue, Alto Molocue, Milange, Morrumbala and Maganja da Costa almost all the posts closed by 21.00. In Quelimane also some posts closed well before the official closing time of midnight, including posts at Morropue EPC, Mariana, Mborio, Micajune, and Namuinho, among others located on the periphery of the city. The reasons given were “breakdowns” of the mobiles and lack of electricity. In some posts, a lack of charge in the powerbanks was alleged. In Alto Molocue, there was a power cut from 15.00 to 23.30, at the Pedreira EPC.

In Milange, in Zambezia, the registration post at the Balala General Secondary School closed with many people still waiting to register. Also in Milange, the post at the Eduardo Mondlane EPC closed at around 18.00, supposedly for lack of electricity and lack of voters. Also in Milange, the post at Milange EPC is operational, but the brigade members are refusing to register citizens from other neighbourhoods. The public are protesting against this situation. By 18.00, the registration post at Cha Oriental EP was closed, with many citizens still in the queue. The brigade members claimed there was no electricity, and that the mobile had lost its charge, so they could not work at night. The post at Liaze primary school is also closed. The school is in darkness. Two citizens arrived at the same time as our correspondents. They wanted to register but this was impossible because the doors were closed. One of these citizens told us that many people had gone home without their voter cards, and that his own father had been unable to register during the entire process because he was suspected of belonging to Renamo. Three of the seven posts in Milange municipality are not functioning.

In Mocuba, by 18.00 registration had already closed at the Marques EPC, CFM and Ceta primary schools , with potential voters still in the queues, moved to Marmelo Primary School to try to register. By midnight it was not possible to register so many people. The same thing is happening in Milange, where the closure of several posts forced voters to go the 7 April registration post.

In Maganja da Costa, in Zambezia, by 18.00 all the posts in the municipality had already closed. In Morrumbala, our correspondents noted that all the registration posts closed at 17.00. In Gurue, all 67 registration posts closed by 21.00, and the STAE cars was collecting teams from the last registration post.

Elsewhere, in Niassa in Mandimba posts were closed after a power cut, which led to the despair of many people. In Cuamba all the registration posts closed, on order of STAE, allegedly for lack of lighting or machine “breakdown”. In Mecanhelas posts were closed, allegedly because there are no longer any voters to register.

In Nampula, registration posts closed before midnight due to the lack of electric power and equipment “breakdowns”. The technique used in Nampula to prevent registration of opposition voters was to cut the electricity, and reconnect it late, when people had already given up. At the Muzuane EPC in Nacala-Porto there was a two hour power cut which prevented some people from registering. There were power cuts in Malema and Ihla de Moçambique. At the Nahane EPC, Nampula city, registration continued, but with few voters. There was no lighting and the mobile suffered frequent “breakdowns” and cards were not printed. At the Acordos de Lusaka EPC, the mobile had been “out of order” since 2 June.

Waiting to register in Angoche, Nampula

In Maputo and Gaza there were posts closed “on higher orders”. In Matola the registration post at the Campo area of the 1st May neighbourhood was closed on the orders of the district STAE. In Xai-Xai city, the registration post in the 6th neighbourhood, on the boundary between Chonguene and Xai-Xai, was closed on the orders of the district STAE.

Observers found posts closed in Zambezia and Cabo Delgado

On Saturday night, during the extension to zero hours, civil society observers visited 67 registration posts, between 20.00 and midnight, and found 12 of them closed. In Morrumbala, Zambezia, the head of STAE closed the registration posts and sent the staff home. In Gurue, the two posts visited were both closed – at the Gurue ESG and the 25 June EPC. In Cabo Delgado, posts were closed in Mocimboa da Praia and Chiure, and some in Montepuez. In Montepuez, the post at Niuhula EPC was open but nobody was registering. In Insaca, in Niassa, the registration officially closed on Saturday at 15.00

In some places, there were enormous queues and not everybody managed to register. In other places, the observers found registration posts empty. In Mocuba, in Zambezia, there were queues and some people were unable to register in Mocuba ESG and in Josina Machel ESG.

In Pemba, Cabo Delgado there long queues of people waiting at the Marcelino dos Santos Secondary School.

In Matola city, at the Matola-Gare EPC, the brigade was working with two computers because of the long queues. At midnight, two people who were still in the queue offered money to brigade members to remain open a while longer, but they refused. Some citizens arrived after midnight at the Nelson Mandela Secondary School.

In Maputo city, there were long queues at the Chamissava Primary School and the Jardim Primary School but at the Unit 10 and Unit 27 Primary Schools, nobody was registering.

In Marromeu, in Sofala, at the Julius Nyerere EPC, there was nobody registering, but when one person did arrive, the computer suddenly “broke down”. At the 3rd February-Kaunda EPC, there was nobody registering when our correspondents passed by.

In Gaza, nobody registered on Saturday night in Chokwe. In Tete, there were very few registrations in Unit 6 (Algodoeira) in Moatize.

Two observers were not authorized to observe in Nampula. In Angoche, at the Nelson Mandela Secondary School, the observers were taken to the police station, because they had been taking photographs (which is permitted). In Nacala-Porto, an observer was prevented from entering the post in the Upper City EPC.

The observers from the “Mais Integridade” (“More Integrity”) civil society consortium visited 67 registration posts between 20.00 and midnight, when the registration was due to end.

Blocking opposition in Alto Molucue

During the voter registration in Alto Molocue, Zambézia, there were always barriers and limitations for people who did not belong to a Frelimo party branch, or were not members of the party organisations OJM and OMM. Frelimo’s idea in Alto Molocue was to register people aligned with the party, so that after attaining their target, they would immediately pretend that the machines had broken down.

In the last week only pre-identified people were registered, and in most posts almost no work was done. Another aspect linked to these manoeuvres was the interruption in the supply of electricity to some posts, such as Malia 2, Mulatxasse and Futuro Melhor. In these posts it has been almost a week since they registered anybody, alleging equipment breakdowns and lack of electricity. On Saturday afternoon, at each registration post Bulletin correspondents found more than 100 voters waiting to see if the power would return, or if the machines could be revived. By then, electricity had been restored in some neighbourhoods, but the brigade members continued to claim that the equipment had been out of service for a week. For the political party monitors at Malia 2, the situation showed that, as far as the brigade members were concerned, the registration has finished and they are just waiting for closing time.

Asked about the hundreds of people waiting to register, they told us that that they could only register next year for the general elections, because there is no more space this year for registration. This was the intention of the ruling party as a way of blocking their adversaries.

Brigade uses phone for lighting and taking photos in Matola

At the Matlemele Secondary School in Matola on Saturday brigade members were using telephones to illuminate the room and to take photos, because of the restrictions in the power supply since Friday, 2 June. At the post in the Nkobe Secondary School, the power cut meant that voters abandoned the post. The nearby neighbourhoods were without power from 14.00 to 18.00.

STAE director threatens brigade member who blew the whistle on the introduction of 273 voters in Manjacaze

The Manjacaze, Gaza, STAE district director, Jonas Mathe, menaced the young brigade member who denounced the “ghost” registration that took place last Monday in Madendere, threatening to take him to the police cells. We used other alternatives to speak with Jonas Mathe. He attended the phone call, but when he realized what it was about, he hung up, and then blocked the number.

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