Mozambique set to vote amid political violence

Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:09 pm

2013-11-20 08:55

Beira - Mozambicans will cast their ballots in local elections on Wednesday, amid concerns that an upsurge in political violence will mar voting.

Opposition party Renamo have denied allegations they plan to disrupt the vote after months of deadly clashes between supporters and government forces.

"Renamo is not a party of violence. We as Renamo party never sat down to plan any kind of violence," a spokesperson for the party, Fernando Mazanga told AFP on the eve of the vote.

Since late October guerrillas from Renamo's military wing have been fighting a low-level insurgency against government forces in the central province of Sofala.

The party has not registered for Wednesday's polls saying the election laws must first be overhauled to ensure it has equal representation on election bodies to stop the ruling party stealing the vote.

Over the past year, Renamo repeatedly vowed to stop elections going ahead.

However, when asked whether people would vote without fear of violence Mazanga alleged that "other political or social forces" could take action.

"This cannot be attributed to Renamo," he said.

"If it [the election] goes well or it goes badly, it is not the responsibility of Renamo."

Voters in the district worst affected by recent fighting between government forces and Renamo rebels said they feared leaving home to cast their ballots.

"We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. I think I will be home, I won't try to put my health in doubt, " a resident of Gorongosa village, Joao Rosario told AFP on Tuesday.

"No one knows what will happen"

The village is just 30km from Satunjira, where government troops over-ran the former military command of Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama in late October.

Many of Dhlakama’s fighters fled into nearby mountains. Dhalkama’s whereabouts are unknown, adding to the climate of uncertainty.

"Renamo is up there. Perhaps they will come and disturb the elections," Rosario said.

Election authorities have vowed to go ahead with the polls, which are seen as a crucial indicator of the ruling, Frelimo party's grip on power.

"No one knows what will happen," election spokesperson Lucas Jose told AFP. "At any moment they could attack but we have the obligation to open the voting stations," he said.

Voters are to elect mayors and local assembly members in 53 municipalities on Wednesday. Presidential polls are planned next October.

In 2008 Frelimo won all but one municipality. With Renamo boycotting these polls, opposition group, the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM (which already controls two towns) wants to collect the spoils, and plans to field candidates in all 53 municipalities.

Abstention levels are traditionally high among Mozambican voters, particularly in municipal polls, held a year in advance of national and presidential elections. In 2008 less than half the number of registered voters turned up to vote.

This time voters are more concerned about seeing the government come to a political agreement with its former civil war enemy, than going to the polls analysts say.

"The lack of progress by both parties towards a concrete peace deal makes people not so enthusiastic about local elections," Mozambican political analyst, Egidio Vaz told AFP.

"Everyone is really interested in making sure this country is not being dragged to war again," he added.


Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:38 pm

Kidnappers threaten to kill teen

19 November 2013 | Tereasa Ferrari

NELSPRUIT - The kidnappings which have plagued Mozambique seem to have spilled over to Mpumalanga's capital. A family who have businesses in the neighbouring country said their son and his friend had been abducted on Friday. The teens, aged 18 and 19, were kidnapped in a West Acres park at about 18:30.

One of the youths was released near Nelsville in Enos Mabuza Drive at about 19:30. He walked to Ehmke Street to a friend's house and they alerted Hi-Tech Security Nelspruit.

Hi-Tech's operations manager Mr Nico Grobler said they received the call about 21:00. His officials and those of Bossies Community Justice, J&M Security and the police, immediately responded. The teen's friends took him to Belladonna filling station where they were met by the security.

He then spoke to the youth and his friend's family and explained they had to open a case with the police as they had the capacity to trace the cellphones the abductors had taken. The family then opened a case of kidnapping.

According to Grobler, the youth said they had gone to the park that night when two men came out of the bush. The attackers had hats on and covered their faces with bandanas. He said they tried to fight them, but stopped when one pulled out a knife and threatened to kill his friend.

Grobler said one of their attackers told them to take a bag from him and open it. "They opened the bag and took out two smaller canvas ones and put them over their heads. The men then tied their feet and hands with what seemed like rope," he said.

The teens were then put into the back of a vehicle. They once they had established that the friend was not related to the other youth, the abductors dropped him off on the side of the road. They drove away with the teen whose family they had targeted.

Grobler said the youth said they told him to lie down on the ground and not get up until they had left or they would shoot his friend.

The targeted mother speaks about her son's traumatic ordeal

The family's identities have been withheld for safety reasons as the suspects have not yet been apprehended. The mother says her husband is a dual Mozambican and South African citizen, and she and the children are South African.

"My husband has businesses in Mozambique and I think this is why they targeted us. We were having dinner in Johannesburg and my husband had only his Mozambique cellphone on him. He had left the one he uses in South Africa at the hotel." She said when they got back around 21:00, they found that the kidnappers had left various voicemails. "They then phoned again and demanded US$1 million but changed it to rand in the same sentence. We immediately drove back to Nelspruit.

"While we were in the car the abductors called again. They told me my son was going to end up like Abdul and was going to look like him." Abdul Rashid (13), to whom they were referring, was the recent victim of a kidnapping which went horrifically wrong in Mozambique.

His abductors tortured the boy and dumped his mutilated body in a nearby town when the family said they could not afford to pay the ransom last month. The kidnappers allowed her to speak to her son to verify that he was still alive."My son said they took them on what must have been a gravel road as it was very bumpy. They asked them if they could speak Portuguese." Her son admitted he could speak a little.

The mother said this was when they realised her son's friend was not her other son, whom they mentioned by name. "They then took him away and my son says he was terrified that they had tortured and killed his friend." The abductors took him to an empty-sounding house which could have been in a complex as he could hear there was an echo.

"The kidnappers put him on a mattress and kicked and hit him in the face many times. His whole body was covered in bruises."

According to the mother, her son said they then moved him to another location where they forced him into a cupboard and stuffed a sock in his mouth. She said he could assess that there must have been four of five of them now from their voices as the bag was still over his head. He told her the abductors said, "If your parents call the police you are going to die."

His mother continued, "The kidnappers then grabbed him out the cupboard and told him we had phoned the police and he thought, 'that's it, they are going to kill me now'". The men pushed him into the car and drove to near the Edge Country Estate at

The Rest and dropped him on the side of the road. "He got up and was stumbling about and they stopped their vehicle again and pushed him into the bush and then drove away again." She said he had no idea where he was and managed to tear off the bag and untie his bound legs and run to try and get help.

A security guard at the Edge helped him and phoned the police and security companies, who arrived shortly.

The mother said the family were now dealing with the trauma and trying to cope with the situation.

The police and security investigation

Recently media had reported that the Muslim community in Mozambique had established that many of the kidnapping cases had their ransoms paid into South African bank accounts.

International relations and cooperation's spokesaman Mr Clayson Monyela had said their department would intervene only if it had been South Africans involved.

Lowvelder asked Monyela now that SA citizens had been affected by a kidnapping, what action would his department take? He responded that abductions were criminal acts and that Lowvelder should refer queries to the police.

Mpumalanga police spokesman Col Leonard Hlathi said the investigation at this stage would stay a provincial one as the incident had occurred in the area. "We are more than capable of handling the investigation." He said if it subsequently led to another country, they would contact Interpol.

"There is no reason to panic as this is an isolated incident. The police with the help of the community will bring these suspects to book." He said they could not divulge anything more about their operations.

Grobler said that they had counter-intelligence information streaming in from different sources about foreign syndicates operating in and around the area. ... -kill-teen

Mozambique votes peacefully amid tension

Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:39 pm

2013-11-21 10:07

Maputo - Mozambicans voted in largely peaceful municipal elections on Wednesday amid tension and sporadic violence in past months between the government and the main opposition group, which boycotted the polls.

There were reports of irregularities in some areas, including delays at some polling stations and some cases of people voting more than once after failing to dip their finger in indelible ink designed to prevent duplicate voting.

Most polling stations closed late on Wednesday and counting began.

At least 53 municipalities are electing town presidents and assemblies, and presidential elections will be held next year.

About 3.5 million people registered to vote on Wednesday.

President Armando Guebuza said authorities provided adequate security at polling stations in Sofala province, where there have been clashes involving fighters of the opposition Renamo group and security forces.

"Everything is going very well. I have voted and my sister also voted without problems," said one resident, Ana Paula Orlando, after voting in Gorongosa, a former Renamo stronghold.

Renamo objects to the current electoral law, saying it is biassed in favour of the ruling Frelimo party. The government wants Renamo fighters to disarm. The two sides fought a civil war after independence from Portugal in 1975; a peace deal was signed in 1992.

- Sapa - AP

Ruling party on top in Mozambique polls

Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:23 pm

2013-11-21 18:51

Johannesburg - Preliminary results from Mozambique's largely peaceful local elections pointed to a comprehensive victory for the ruling party on Wednesday and a potential shake-up among the country's opposition parties.

Frelimo, which has been victorious in all elections since the end of Mozambique's civil war in 1992, looked set for convincing wins in its traditional bastions in the south.

Polling was calm in zones worst affected by recent deadly fighting between government troops and supporters of the main opposition party Renamo.

Renamo had boycotted the polls, arguing election laws needed to be changed.

Amid that protest the country's third largest party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) made substantial gains.

The MDM put up a fight in urban centres, especially in Maputo, where there has been vocal opposition against President Armando Guebuza and his party.

With less than 20% of the votes counted in Maputo, incumbent Frelimo mayor, David Simango is ahead with 58% versus 42% for the MDM candidate.

The MDM was neck and neck with Frelimo across the northern Zambezia province, and well ahead in the provincial capital Quelimane.

This is the first time the MDM, a Renamo break-away founded in 2009, has contested nation-wide municipal polls.

"These results are good enough to make MDM a serious opposition for next year's elections," Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon told AFP, predicting, "they will replace Renamo".

That would spell an end to the decades-long Frelimo-Renamo political duopoly.

"When you look at the turnouts, they were way up in Beira and Quelimane and this shows they [the MDM] can organise and it shows they can get the vote out," Hanlon added.

This kind of organisation, Hanlon said, was "something Renamo could never do".

Out of a population of 24 million people, just over three million voters were estimated to be eligible to vote in 53 municipalities where polling took place on Wednesday.

"These elections in general were calm but there was a lot of fear caused by problems between the government and Renamo but they went off without attacks," the Director of Mozambique's Electoral Observatory, Guillherme Mbilana told AFP.

"The problem we saw was a lack of confidence between people and the police, particularly in municipalities controlled by the opposition. People were afraid."

There were however isolated incidents of unrest.

Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse voters who tried to stay at polling stations late on Wednesday in the northern town of Angoche and in Quelimane.


Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:28 pm

Remarkable! \O

Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:37 pm

Richprins wrote:Remarkable! \O

What is remarkable :-? Very few voters and people being afraid to vote and accidents happening -O-

Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:05 pm

No bloodshed!

African democracy is a bit different down here, Lis! Baby steps! :-)

Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:32 am

As long as those baby steps go forward and not backwards 0*\

Mozambique police break up protest

Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:38 am

2013-11-22 19:04

Maputo - Mozambique's opposition party on Friday accused the police of using teargas to disperse its supporters in the central Gorongosa region, where the ruling party's victory in municipal polls is disputed.

"Police are being manipulated to use teargas against us," the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) candidate Daniel Missasse told AFP during the protest.

"We are holding a peaceful march," he said, adding, "We don't want trouble with anyone."

The opposition supporters were marching to the offices of the National Electoral Commission, to register a complaint of fraud by the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) party.

Provisional results gave Missasse only 43% of the vote.

Frelimo has dismissed the fraud allegation as "pure lies".

Frelimo's spokesman Damiao Jose said the MDM was finding it difficult to accept defeat.

The restive Gorongosa region was used by rebels of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and its leader Afonso Dhlakama as its base, before it was seized by the army last month.

Guard shoots muso

Renamo, which had for long time been at loggerheads with government, had threatened to disrupt the polls.

Voting on Wednesday went off without major reports of violence, but on Thursday a local musician who was performing at an MDM victory party in the town of Quelimane was shot, allegedly by one of the governor's guards.

"One of the residential guards of the governor... took a rifle and shot him in the head," said the mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo.

"The bullet went in his face and out of his neck. He died there, instantly."

Quelimane is one of two provincial capitals where provisional election results show a convincing MDM win.

Frelimo, which has won all elections since the end of Mozambique's civil war in 1992, is currently leading the vote.


Re: Trouble in Mozambique

Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:46 am