JOHANNESBURG - South Africa and Zimbabwe will have the largest observer contingents during Mozambique’s elections on October 15, with at least 100 observers each, Miguel de Brito of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (Eisa) said on Thursday.The ruling party, Frelimo, is in pole position to extend its unbroken grip on power since independence in 1975.
But its share of the vote for the presidency and Parliament was unlikely to reach the 75 percent announced in 2009, election experts said.
“If I was betting on the results, I would predict 55 percent for Frelimo and 45 percent for the combined opposition,” De Brito, the country director in Mozambique for Eisa, told a briefing in Johannesburg.
The prize for victory will be control of billions of dollars in future oil and gas revenues.
Barring extraordinary events, two names look certain to be engraved on the winner’s medal: those of Frelimo and its new candidate, Filipe Nyusi.
Observer missions from China and Vietnam will be in Mozambique for the polls, flanking groups from the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the community of Portuguese-speaking countries and, most important, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
As head of Sadc’s politics, defence and security organ, SA would lead the 15-nation group’s observer mission, to be deployed throughout Mozambique on October 4, SA’s deputy minister of International Relations and Co-operation Luwellyn Landers said on Thursday.
Frelimo, whose historic leader was the late Samora Machel, is one of the core southern African liberation movements which have already run their countries for 20-40 years and show no sign of making way for opposition parties.
Relations with the African National Congress are old and close. De Brito said Frelimo’s candidate, Nyusi, had secured the backing of the ruling parties of SA, Angola, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe during a recent regional tour.
His opponents are Afonso Dhlakama, the ageing leader of Renamo which fought a long bush war against Frelimo, and Daviz Simango of the MDM group of former Frelimo loyalists.
If no candidate secures an absolute majority there will be a run-off between the top two. Voters will also be electing members of the 250-seat parliament and provincial assemblies.
Political scientists do not consider the few opinion polls conducted this year to have the methodological integrity to be reliable forecasts of how Mozambicans will vote.
But there is no doubt about the height of the stakes involved as revenues from large investments in gas, oil and coal are expected to start flowing into government coffers within the next 10 years.
“Whoever loses these elections may not have another chance to get into power for years to come,” De Brito said, because of the leverage the incumbent government would enjoy in terms of wealth distribution, social programmes and employment. — bday