Search

 

Cablegate: November Municipal Elections an Accurate Gauge Of

VZCZCXRO3907
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0714/01 2050706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230706Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9163
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0206

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000714

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MZ
SUBJECT: NOVEMBER MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AN ACCURATE GAUGE OF
DEMOCRACY IN MOZAMBIQUE?

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Members of Mozambican political parties
and civil society met in early July to review preparations
for the November 19 municipal elections. The participants
identified three elements critical to the success of the
elections: transparency in the election process, party
control of members, and independent media coverage.
Participants also discussed the electoral dominance of
FRELIMO and the lack of voter connection to national
representatives as explanations for the significant decrease
in voter participation in national elections. The November
municipal elections should serve as a realistic referendum on
how Mozambicans view the Guebuza administration. END SUMMARY.

----------------------
TRANSPARENCY ESSENTIAL
----------------------

2. (U) Mozambique will hold elections in all of its 43
municipalities on November 19: this will be the first local
election held in the 10 new municipalities created by the
National Assembly in April. In early July, numerous
representatives of Mozambique's political parties, electoral
bodies, universities, religious leaders, and the media
gathered to review preparations for the municipal elections.
Hoping to assure that electoral results are peacefully
accepted, the attendees urged the National Electoral
Committee (CNE) to operate openly: the CNE was roundly
criticized for its closed process in the previous election,
especially for its refusal to publicize its criteria for
determining the validity of vote tally sheets. Participants
also called for more transparency in tabulating votes,
including the use of independent observers, as well as public
prosecution of those committing voting irregularities.
(Note: During the 2003 local elections, judicial authorities
did not prosecute FRELIMO or RENAMO party members caught
manipulating vote tallies and stuffing ballot boxes. End
note.) The restructuring of the Technical Secretariat for
Electoral Administration (STAE) earlier this year--removing
political appointees and replacing them with neutral
professionals--was viewed as supportive of transparency,
although some critics alleged that STAE had failed to conduct
voter registration in some areas supportive of RENAMO.

--------------------------
VIOLENCE MUST BE MINIMIZED
--------------------------

3. (U) Referring to a history of threats and burning of
opponents' homes, participants called on FRELIMO and RENAMO
to take measures to ensure that their members refrain from
acts of violence. Noted journalist Salomao Moyana recalled a
tour of the country in which he found such strong political
rivalries between FRELIMO and RENAMO supporters that party
activists and even members of the police threatened
opposition-party politicians with violence or death should
they hold rallies on FRELIMO turf. Other participants urged
that political parties educate members on constitutionally
protected rights, such as the freedom of expression and the
freedom to exercise political rights, noting that these
rights are not well known outside of Maputo.

--------------------------------------------- --
INDEPENDENT MEDIA, CAMPAIGN FINANCING ESSENTIAL
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (U) Participants generally agreed that an independent
media is critical to transparent, acceptable elections. Some
suggested independent funding for the media, particularly
since the current practice of candidates paying members of
the media to accompany during campaigning can affect media
independence. Others alleged that, although Mozambican law
requires state sponsored media to be neutral, the state-owned
daily newspaper, radio, and television stations give more
extensive and favorable coverage to FRELIMO. The head of a
small opposition party called for state financing for all
political parties as a way of increasing choices for the
electorate, adding that state support for the campaigns of
only FRELIMO and RENAMO had contributed to the bipolarization
of Mozambican politics and accelerated the trend towards a
one-party system.

--------------------------------------------- -
VOTER TURNOUT IN NATIONAL ELECTIONS DECREASING
--------------------------------------------- -

5. (U) Participants noted with concern the decrease in the
number of registered voters voting in national elections: in
the country's first national elections, held in 1994, 87% of
eligible voters voted. In 1999 69% voted and in 2004 only
36% of those eligible voted. The primary factors in the
rapid decrease in participation were deemed to be loss of

MAPUTO 00000714 002 OF 002


interest in the national elections due to one-party
domination and lack of relationship to those elected. The
director of the Mozambican chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa suggested that a more independent and
better-funded press could better inform voters, resulting in
greater electoral participation.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
COMMENT: LOCAL ELECTIONS BETTER REFLECT NATIONAL FEELING?
--------------------------------------------- ------------

6. (SBU) The development of democracy in Mozambique may be
more accurately observed in the municipal elections than in
the national elections. A personal knowledge of the
candidates creates a feeling of ownership of the process, a
purpose for participation, and some sense of accountability.
The national elections, dominated since independence by
FRELIMO, provide a slate of unknown candidates designated by
the winning party and usually with no connection to their
constituents. Outside the capital, many citizens vote only
because they are required to do so as a condition of their
employment, or at the specific recommendation of their
village elder. As such, the November municipal elections
should serve as a realistic referendum on how Mozambicans
view the Guebuza administration.
Chapman

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC