Mozambique’s Constitutional Council on Friday put an end to weeks of speculation with regards to the outcome of the 11 October municipal elections in 55 municipalities, by issuing a 56-page ruling that with a few exceptions rubber-stamped decisions made in earlier fora by the electoral bodies and lower courts.
The ruling saw the Constitutional Council, which doubles up as electoral court during elections, hand the ruling Frelimo party crucial wins in Maputo city, Matola and Nampula, which parallel count show had been won by the opposition Renamo party.
Meanwhile, if the electoral bodies had awarded Frelimo victories in 64 of 65 municipalities, the council awarded four (Quelimane city, Gurué, Chiúre and Vilankulos) to Renamo, and confirmed Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM)’s win in Beira, its stronghold. The new entrant New Democracy had been buried underneath the Constitutional Court’s legal verbiage.
To wit: Renamo claimed to have won in 15 municipalities, and only got four back after the rigged litigation process. The Constitutional Council decided on the repetition of elections in Marromeu, Sofala province, and in a sprinkling of polling stations in Nacala Porto, Milange and Gurué.
Caught between rhetoric and truth
The Constitutional Council’s long-winded ruling, read by its chairperson, former Portuguese teacher and current Constitutional Council Chief Justice Lúcia da Luz Ribeiro, did not hide the institutional fraud; on the contrary, the ruling highlights the fraud and elevates it to the category of crime of the regime.
For example, the reading showed that the Constitutional Council “transferred” up to 29.000 votes from Frelimo to Renamo in Matola perhaps to lessen the fraudulent gap without bothering to explain what, how and who caused this electoral miracle to happen; the council engaged in a cockfight with the courts of first resort and quibbled over the electoral law when it should have only analysed the facts contained in the appeals, assessed the merits of the arguments and identified the problems, and if possible, questioned and/or investigated the causes, and applied the law.
None of that was done, except for the spouting of words in a narcissistic and pointless way, an exercise whose main aim was to come up with an equation to maintain the status quo and prevent demonstrations and contain protests.
What is surprising is that even those justices who were appointed by Renamo to grace the halls of the council signed up to rubber-stamp one more shameful chapter in the country’s democracy and one-party state.
A win tasting of shame
One thing is clear: Frelimo is the big loser. The smiles and cheers from the two Frelimo heads of lists in Maputo and Matola, Rasaque Manhique and Júlio Parruque, and the sighs of relief of many who depended on the stolen election to continue prospering, could not hide the truth.
The election has laid bare the fissures and cracks in Frelimo’s internal unity, culminating with the subsequent public criticism of the current leadership. In 2024, nothing might not be the same and the party’s hegemony is down to the wire: even if Agriculture and Rural Development minister, Celso Correia, remains the party’s campaign director, there might be no miracles. Observers might no longer just do sightseeing; voters may not be intimidated by the police.
Frelimo might be in its Orwellian phase, evinced by its Secretary-General calling a hastily prepared and poorly attended press conferences, confirming the slide down a spiral of moral decadence, hiding the shame in a victory shamefully handed to it by all state bodies involved in the electoral process.
In a well-choreographed dangerous measure, Frelimo decided that the Constitutional Council’s ruling be announced on a Friday to control or minimise the risk of an uprising. After all, it is aware that people prefer drinking rather than defend their rights and freedoms.
There was even a “circus with clowns” from Angola to entertain the crowd and celebrate the shameful resounding victory.
A victim of its leadership
History repeated itself for Renamo. Observers of things Mozambican have said in the past that the late Afonso Dhlakama was paid $4 million, in 1999, in exchange for his acceptance of the results. Perhaps Renamo’s current leader, Ossufo Momade, might have been paid double of what Dhlakama was paid. Momade only spoke once, and on a Saturday, in this whole saga.
Venâncio Mondlane has publicly attacked Renamo’s leadership stance, seeing instead Peters who disowned him more than three times before the sun rose, adding that they “owe the people an explanation”. He has promised to go on fighting, but he must be fearful for his life.
Mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araújo, to avoid the fall of his city into Frelimo’s hands, went big and challenged the state’s monopoly on diplomacy and toured Washington DC, Europe and Brazil to expose the rottenness of Mozambique’s democracy. Certainly, waiting for Ossufo Momade would not have put him in good stead as the Constitutional Council ruling proved.
The moral vices of the electoral bodies
Owing to the nature of Mozambican politics, political parties fill up the electoral bodies with their own members. The outcome is that most of such members will act according to their own interest: material gains. Many or all of them preferred to throw their rottenness or hunger at Dom Carlos Matsinhe, who did what EVERYONE would do: follow the law to the letter and proclaim the results.
Yes, because the law in Mozambique states that within 15 days of the vote the chairperson of the National Electoral Commission must proclaim the results, whether there are appeals or complaints lodged. The whole circus denounces a cabal of hungry people trying to hide their sins at the expense of the Bishop’s honour.
The true winner of the election were Mozambican youths who with their ENOUGH! put a spanner into the works and upset the status quo, which were it not for the complicity of the Constitutional Council, which rubber-stamped a rigged outcome, the situation would be different. Who knows, those who have been paying attention had an opportunity to learn, as for those who are blind and megalomaniacal could lose in 2024.
Nobody should claim this to have won the elections except the residents of those municipalities where the Constitutional Council restored the electoral truth.
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