Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and his Frelimo party won a resounding victory in the Oct. 15 elections. While opposition parties plan to contest the results, commentators see little chance of them being overturned.
Official tallies show Nyusi winning 73 percent of the presidential vote. Frelimo will hold more than two-thirds of the seats in the national parliament, and the party has a majority — and the right to nominate the governor — in all of the country’s provinces.
Adriano Nuvunga of the Maputo-based Center for Democracy and Development says the elections were rigged from the outset — but that he was still surprised the opposition was left completely empty-handed.
“Everyone believed that in a free and fair election, there would have been power-sharing at the provincial level,” Nuvunga said. “Clearly there was ballot-box stuffing in favor of the incumbent, and the tabulation part at the polling stations was not transparent in several parts. The tally sheets were changed. So, clearly, all these contributed to the size of the victory of Frelimo.”
The U.S. embassy said some election results “strained credibility,” and the EU observer mission said the vote was conducted in a “climate of fear and intimidation” on an “unlevel playing field.”
The opposition Renamo party and others said Tuesday they will submit an appeal to the Constitutional Council to have the results overturned and the election re-run. But they are unlikely to get anywhere, Nuvunga told VOA.
“I don’t see the Constitutional Council as it is today to take that forward,” he said. “They will clearly look at it not on its merits but on the formality, etc., and so this is all a part in my view of a democratic closure in the country.”
Antonio Boene, a senior Frelimo official who won a seat in parliament, said the opposition only has itself to blame — and that Frelimo’s overwhelming victory shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“The principal mistake of the opposition was to convince itself that the economic, political, social situation we’ve been living through in Mozambique, supposedly caused by the so-called hidden debts, would be enough for people to stop voting for Frelimo,” Boene said. “They didn’t do grass-roots campaigning, or consistent work, to transmit a message of what could be an alternative to Frelimo.”
Nyusi will be emboldened by the election result to move forward with his political agenda, Boene says — but Nuvunga has voiced worry about what Nyusi and Frelimo’s domination of the political scene means for Mozambique.
“This election not only gave Frelimo victory, but the way that the state power was used, not only against opposition but particularly against independent observers, you know that we were denied accreditation to observers, the use of state power,” Nuvunga said. “It tells you that the state is even much more politicized, used by Frelimo, not only to shrink the space for independent thinking, for independent civil society organizations, but overall democratic space.”
Pending confirmation of the results by the Constitutional Council, Nyusi and the new parliament are expected to be sworn in to office in January.