Mozambique: December 1999 Elections

Extracted from: "Mozambique" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 205-206.

In late March 1999, a new CNE [National Electoral Commission] was appointed to supervise the second multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections. It comprised 17 members, of whom 2 were appointed by the government, eight by Frelimo, six by Renamo and one by the UD. Reverend Jamisse Taimo, a Methodist Pastor and rector of the Higher Institute for International Relations, was appointed as the chairperson of the 1999 CNE. In late March 1999, Antonio Carasco was appointed as the new director general of the STAE.

Reforms to the electoral law sought to provide for greater transparency by ensuring that all the interested parties could monitor every aspect of the electoral process. This principle resulted in the inclusion of party representatives not only in the CNE, but also in the STAE at national, provincial and district levels. There were provincial CNEs with six members appointed by parties proportionally to their respective parliamentary representations and one member from the government. At the district level, there were four members nominated by their parties in proportion to their seats in Parliament and one by the government.

Voter registration presented the newly formed CNE with its major pre-election challenge since Renamo was critical of the state of the voters' roll from previous elections. Therefore an entirely new voter registration process was initiated in July 1999. Voter registration took place from 20 July to 17 September 1999 in conformity with the legal requirement of 60 days. While the total population of Mozambique was estimated at 18.2 million inhabitants in 1996, the voting age population was assumed to be approximately 8.3 million. A total of 7 099 105 people registered for the 1999 elections (85.5% of the eligible population) compared to 6.1 million people (78%) in 1994. The process was hampered by severe administrative difficulties owing to the overall poor condition of roads and weak communication links. However, all parties largely accepted the process and the results.

On 16 July 1999, Renamo entered Into an electoral alliance With ten smaller political parties. This coalition was known as Renamo Electoral Union (UE), and RENAMO was undoubtedly the main partner in this coalition. Renamo -UE endorsed Afonso Dhlakama as its presidential candidate. All the coalition members used the symbols and flag of Renamo in their electoral campaigning in exchange for the inclusion of their leaders in Renamo's parliamentary electoral lists.

While in 1994 twelve candidates stood for the presidential election, the 1999 presidential election had only, Joaquim Chissano for Frelimo and Afonso Dhlakama for Renamo. Tensions flared during the campaign with several incidents of harassment and intimidation but the overall political climate was much improved compared to 1994. The voting took place on 3 and 4 December 1999 before being extended to 5 December by the CNE. Rains, the poor state of the infrastructure and delays in the delivery of voting materials led the CNE to extend the vote by one more day.

The final results were released by the CNE on 22 December 1999 after a delay due to technical problems. This delay was the source of considerable suspicion on the part of Renamo and election observers. Frelimo consolidated its parliamentary majority by obtaining 48.5% of the vote against 38.8% to Renamo-UE (for more see 1999 Assembly of the Republic national results). Frelimo won a majority in Parliament with 133 seats, while Renamo increased its number of seats to 117. Coalition partners were responsible for 18 of the 117 seats. The presidential race was much close with Chissano re-elected as president with 52.3% of the votes against 47.7% for Dhlakama (see also 1999 Presidential election results).

Renamo challenged the election results as announced by the CNE and requested a recount. Renamo submitted a formal complaint on 4 January 2000. Renamo alleged that the computerised compilation of results in the provincial centres was fraudulent and that hundreds of individual voting station registers were ignored in both the presidential and parliamentary races. While the crux of the Renamo allegations was the charge of fraudulent compilation of the 11 provincial results which form the basis of representation in parliament, Renamo also alleged that its members were denied full access to the provincial computer centres tasked with the counting and transmission of results to Maputo. The Supreme Court ruled that the computerised results could be properly reconciled against the registers, and that while there were errors in some registers, they were insufficient to alter significantly the results.

One problem in 1999 election related to voting. The high rainfall experienced over the period made access to certain areas difficult and hampered the voting process in those regions. Voting did not take place at all at eight polling stations in the district of Pebane (Zambezia province) due to technical problems and communication problems caused by heavy rains and a helicopter crash. This affected approximately 8 000 voters.

There were two major problems with the counting, according to the Mozambican Peace Process Bulletin: "First, the computer software was installed late and that meant data input started three days late. Second, the editais (the record of the vote) were written by candle - or lamp-light at 3am by a very tired polling station staff, and up to 20% of the editais had errors, often simply of summing up incorrectly. This led to slower than expected process at the provincial level, because the editais had to be corrected and checked against the actas."

Renamo refused to recognise the election results or the legitimacy of Chissano's presidential victory. The party boycotted his inauguration although its members took up their seats in Parliament. Party relations have remained tense since the December 1999 elections. The long-standing issue of the appointment of provincial governors continued to be a flashpoint in this dispute. Renamo won a majority of the vote in six of the 11 provinces and demanded that a member be appointed governor in those provinces. Effectively, political support in the country was split with Renamo winning support in the central and northern provinces, while Frelimo won in the south and in Cabo Delgado, the northern most province. However, Frelimo insisted that the powers of appointment rested with the president and Frelimo members became governors in every province.