FRELIMO denies plans to postpone elections

Frelimo Central Committee secretary for mobilisation and propaganda Edson Macuacua told a Maputo Press conference: “Our desire and our political will is clear and unequivocal ‘ it is that the elections for the provincial assemblies should take place next year as envisaged under the constitution.”

So committed was Frelimo to the elections, he added, that it had brought forward the date of its Ninth Congress, originally scheduled for 2007, to November of this year.

That decision had been taken, Macuacua said, “so that in 2007 the party’s full attention will be concentrated on the provincial elections”.

It thus made no sense to claim that Frelimo was not interested in those elections. Indeed, “Frelimo has already begun to prepare its electoral machinery in order to win the elections for the provincial assemblies”, stressed Macuacua. “From the point of view of the readiness of our party apparatus, we have more than enough reason to support the holding of these elections next year.”

The problem is that neither Macuacua nor anybody else knows what a provincial assembly is. The detailed powers of such bodies are not yet defined by any law.

The Constitution merely states that the assemblies are “bodies of democratic representation, elected by universal suffrage and secret ballot, on the principle of proportional representation, with a term of office of five years”.

They are to control compliance with constitutional principles, and with government decisions in the provinces, and to approve the programme of the provincial governments.

And that is all the constitution says about them. Everything else about the assemblies (including how many members they have, how often they meet, their financial arrangements, their detailed operations) is left to an ordinary law ‘ which has yet to be passed.

AIM asked Macuacua how Frelimo could be so upbeat about bodies which do not yet exist, and whose powers and structure are still undefined. He brushed this aside as “technicalities”.

“Frelimo has the political will for these elections,” he declared. “Everything else is technical.”

A further stumbling block is that the electoral legislation has not been revised: for the past 18 months, the parliamentary group of the former rebel movement Renamo has prevented any amendment, because it is demanding the same number of seats on the National Elections Commission (CNE) as Frelimo.

Frelimo’s counter-proposal was to eliminate political party representation on the CNE altogether, and have a body consisting exclusively of people chosen from civil society organisations. Renamo has rejected this out of hand.

Macuacua told the reporters that Frelimo wants “electoral bodies that are less partisan, more professional, and as small as possible, so that they can be functional, effective and efficient”.

This, he pointed out, was in line with all the recommendations from the local and foreign observer missions who monitored the 2004 general election.

RENAMO, Macuacua accused, “invents a succession of phoney arguments to create deadlock in the amendment of the electoral law”, and tries to transfer the debate from the parliamentary commissions “to feed poorly improvised Press conferences”.

The real problem for Renamo, he suggested, was that “it distrusts all segments of society and of the state”.

Asked about claims made by Renamo national spokesperson Fernando Mazanga, who accused Frelimo of coercively collecting money for its forthcoming congress from citizens and from civil servants, Macuacua challenged Renamo “to produce a single person who has been forced to contribute money to our congress”.

Mazanga’s claim was “a blatant lie”, he said. Frelimo was funding the congress from the initiatives of its own members and supporters. ‘ NAMPA-AIM.

August 2006
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