The only major observation of the April-June registration was done by the Mais Integriade (More Integrity) civil society consortium. Their very detailed report (English and Portuguese) was published Tuesday (12 September). This assessment is based on direct observation of the voter registration operations over 45 days in 27 municipalities, done by a team of 68 observers.
Many issues are raised, notably lack of transparency compared to previous registrations, illegal priority to Frelimo lists, ghost voters, and not learning lessons from the pilot registration.
The National Statistical Office, which good and trusted, did projections of the number of voting age adults. More than half of municipalities had more people registered than there are voting age adults. Six municipalities registered more than 150% of adults, which are surely ghost voters.
Gaza was the worst, with five municipalities with registration over 128% and the other two between 90% and 100%. All but one Zambézia municipality (Quelimane) was over 100%. (One exception, not included, is Ibo Island in Cabo Delagado where there are huge number of war refugees, which pushed up the registration levels.)
The observers also note that “in all the municipalities observed, except those located in Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo provinces, and in Maputo city, right at the start of the registration, there appeared at the registration posts the so-called ‘priority lists’ of citizens who should be granted priority in the registration. These lists consisted mostly of teachers, and were sent to the registration posts by school directors, branches of the Frelimo Party in the public administration, and neighbourhood secretaries and people chosen by the neighbourhood secretaries because they are linked with the Frelimo Party. None of these categories of citizens have priority in the eyes of the law.”
“A consequence of the use of ‘priority lists’ is a guarantee that most members and supporters of the Frelimo Party manage to register and citizens whose political tendency is not formally pro-Frelimo are demobilised. A further consequence is the concentration of formally Frelimo voters in the same registration books, and consequently at the same polling stations, which will allow Frelimo, on voting day, to monitor the process and thus influence the rate of participation of its members and how they vote.”
Other points included that lessons supposedly learned in the pilot registration, notably adjustments needed to take photos of older and albino people, and the need to regularly clean the printers, were not applied in the actual registration. Also “unlike the openness and transparency of 2018, in 2023 preliminary data were shared at irregular intervals, in an ad- hoc and restricted way,” notes Mais Integridade.