THE 1998 LOCAL ELECTIONS IN MOZAMBIQUE - 2
THE 1998 LOCAL ELECTIONS PROCESS
The National Elections Commission (Comissão Nacional de Eleições - CNE) supervised and managed the entire electoral process. It acted as an independent body, even from the State, and was responsible for coordinating and organizing the elections. The CNE was composed of one President (Dr. Leonardo Simbine), appointed by the President of Mozambique and 8 other members, 4 of whom were appointed by the Parliamentary wing of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique - Mozambique Liberation Front - the Government's party), 3 appointed by the Parliamentary wing of RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana - Mozambican National Resistance - the main opposition party) and one member with technical experience (basically to deal with STAE matters), appointed by the Council of Ministers. The various electoral tasks were carried out by the 'Technical Secretariat for the Administration of the Elections' (Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral - STAE), headed by Mr. Arménio Correia and Deputy-Director, Mr. Alberto Razul. The STAE was under CNE supervision. The financing of the electoral process came in part from the Mozambican Government and largely from the International Community through the United Nations and the European Union.
THE CIVIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN AND THE VOTER REGISTRATION UPDATE
After the Voter Registration for the Multiparty General Elections of October, 1994, a new Voter Registration had to be carried out for the Local Elections of 1998. This update included New Registrations, Second-Issue Voters' Cards (for those who lost or damaged their original cards) and Transfers (for people who moved to another municipality). One of the key factors for the success of this update was to keep the population informed about what to do during the various phases of the process. To this effect the electoral civic education played a key role in educating the people for the local elections, which was a new experience for the Mozambicans. The civic education campaign covered the entire country, beginning on October 13, and lastind until November 30, 1997. Manuals and guides, posters and cartoons were distributed throughout the country, explaining why people should vote and what local elections were all about. Civic Education Agents also went door-to-door explaining the registration process to the population. Local theater and dance groups played an important role with shows and plays to attract the people. Radio and television spots constantly broadcasted and telecasted electoral announcements and Mobile Units and Information Centers were used to alert the population to the upcoming registration. It was essential that people with electoral capacity would go to the registrations posts to register or to update their cards. The final result of the campaign was very positive, with more elegible voters registered than the expected number.
The Registration Update began on November 10 and lasted until December 7, 1997 (after a 7 day extension period). A total of 8850 Voter Registration Agents and 1770 Civic education personnel, distributed by 1770 registration posts, carried out the various tasks of the update. Political Party Monitors from FRELIMO and RENAMO were present in almost every registration post. United Nations Volunteers were also available in the Provinces and Districts and helped to unlock problematic logistic situiations. With very few exceptions, the work carried out by the Registration Brigades was performed correctly and with dedication, especially in the country's remote areas, where the imagination and dynamic of the agents contributed to facilitate the work.
The main problem regarding the registration was related to some missing electoral registers from 1994 (damaged by rain and by poor warehousing conditions, or just misplaced), which amounted to 131 registers of which 68 were part of some of the 33 municipalities where the local elections were to take place. Other problems were the ommissions, repetitions and errors which occurred with the new transcribed registers, as well as registration kits without films or cameras (for the voter's card photo) and missing transfer-forms. Poor management of transport facilities also created difficult situations in certain Districts and ill-defined municipal boundaries had not yet been properly established. All these problems didn't involve in any way, "the existence of an irregularity which indicated the fraudulent adulteration of the Voter Registration results in order to satisfy the political or strategic objectives of anyone" (Arménio Correia, STAE-Central Director-General to 'Notícias' of 24/1/1998). One by one, solutions were found to solve the problems and this contributed for the positive outcome of the Voter Registration Update.