Cablegate: The Weak State of Small Parties in Mozambique

Published: Tue 27 Jul 2004 12:29 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: 03 MAPUTO 01664
1. (U) SUMMARY. Facing presidential and legislative elections
in December of 2004, Mozambique will likely showcase
impressive two-party competition between the major political
competitors, FRELIMO and RENAMO-UE. Small third party forces
are in a weak stage of development and require
capacity-building so that they may attract a legitimate base
of support and draw up and articulate sound party principles.
The only potential bright spot for small independent parties
may be with the Party for Peace, Democracy, and Development
(PPD), led by ex-RENAMO member, Raul Domingos. The newly
passed general elections law will likely create greater
transparency in the upcoming elections, however opposition
parties already complain of fraud in the electoral process.
2. (U) In advance of the 2004 general elections, econ/poloff
and political specialist held a series of meetings with
leaders of small political parties to gauge political
outlook, assess small party preparation, and seek feedback on
the recently approved general elections law. FRELIMO, the
current ruling party, has enjoyed power since Mozambican
independence in 1975. RENAMO-UE, the major opposition force,
comprised of RENAMO and ten small parties that together form
a coalition, is just beginning to get a taste of power,
showcasing an extremely close presidential race in the 1999
general elections, and winning mayorship of four of
thirty-three municipalities in the 2003 municipal elections
(REFTEL). In 2004, current FRELIMO President Joaquim Chissano
will step down and a new FRELIMO contender, Armando Guebuza,
has already taken the campaign block. RENAMO-UE will continue
to support its perennial presidential contender and party
leader, Afonso Dhlakama. Although Mozambique has achieved
generally healthy two-party competition, what it fiercely
lacks is a legitimate third party force.
3. (SBU) Sadly, many small parties are not able to articulate
a party platform or speak articulately about party
priorities. The four parties represented in our discussions,
PAMOMO - Democratic Party for the Reconciliation of
Mozambique (independent), PIMO - Independent Party of
Mozambique (independent), PT - Worker's Party (independent),
and PCN - National Convention Party (part of RENAMO-UE),
spent significant time complaining about the state of
democracy in Mozambique and the unfairness of elections,
without offering any true solutions to improve the situation.
Starting out our mission by speaking to PAMOMO leader, Albano
Maiopue, an attorney and former advisor to Dhlakama, he was
scathingly critical of the Mozambican democratic system and
the current state of political affairs. He described the 2003
municipal elections as a "huge electoral injustice", claiming
abuses of fraud on the part of FRELIMO and forecasting the
upcoming election to be even worse. Disappointed by the
current system, Miopue had no suggestions for improving it,
only encouraging a greater observation force and greater
party equality. He repeatedly complained about the lack of
funds small parties have to work with and how this translates
into a vacuum for true multiparty competition. With around
25,000 supporters, PAMOMO holds no seats in the Parliament
and its strongest support is found in the North (Zambezia,
Cabo Delgado, and Nampula). Running independently in the 2004
legislative elections, PAMOMO is not expected to achieve the
5% vote threshold necessary to put a representative in the
4. (SBU) Similar discussions took place with Malgalhaes
Ibramugy, Secretary General of PIMO, a second independent
party. Although PIMO stands for the Independent Party of
Mozambique, it is also known as the Islamic Party of
Mozambique, as a vast majority of its members are party to
the tenants of Islam. The president of the party, Yacub
Sibindy, who is also the nephew of RENAMO leader Afonso
Dhlakama, is an outspoken and well-recognized political
figure throughout the country, who wins significant media
attention. The party was founded in 1993 when a Muslim group
of deputies in Parliament established like-minded policies
and created PIMO. The Constitution forbids parties to be
established based along religious or tribal lines, however
PIMO dismisses that it is a religiously-affiliated party.
Although it runs independently, PIMO won three seats in the
municipal assemblies during the 2003 elections and runs a
heavy campaign in the North, where most of its support,
particularly Muslim support, is found. Describing the current
registration period as a "fiasco", Ibramugy took stabs at
FRELIMO governance and explained the "widespread
intimidation" that occurs throughout the country, stating
that non-FRELIMO supporters are prevented from registering.
Calling Mozambican politics a "dirty game", he criticized the
work of observers and donors as half-hearted, saying the
international community must "open its eyes" and pay greater
attention to the entire political process, from the opening
day of registration to the final announcement of results at a
national level. Although PIMO unfairly describes the current
political situation in Mozambique as "unhealthy", it enlists
broader support than other small parties by putting itself in
the spotlight. PIMO also has access to greater funding than
other small parties (source unknown), which may account for
its limited success.
5. (SBU) The Worker's Party, PT, has not established a broad
media presence, but gains some strength by representing the
working masses. PT, a leftist party founded in 1993, is
independent of RENAMO-UE. Its founder, Miguel Mabote,
campaigns wearing a helmet, bringing to life the spirit of
the party. PT, gaining most of its support from the southern
provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, won seats in the 1998
municipal elections most likely attributed to RENAMO-UE's
decision to boycott the elections. In 2003, PT did not win
any seats in the municipal assemblies. PT described reducing
unemployment, providing education to the masses, and
improving health conditions and combating HIV/AIDS as top
party priorities. Demonstrating a refreshing and optimistic
view of Mozambique and its political process, Mabote said
that Mozambique has an important political and economic role
to play in the region. Although PT exhibited a more promising
and less accusatory political stance, it still complained of
a lack of funds to function as an effective third party
force. PT is not expected to make an impact on the current
year presidential or legislative electoral outcomes.
6. (SBU) Undeniably the most impressive of the four small
party leaders, Lutero Simango, President of the National
Convention Party, is currently a deputy in the National
Assembly. PCN, a party of intellectuals and academics, joined
the RENAMO-UE coalition in 2003. Simango's father was a
senior leader in FRELIMO during the days of Mozambique's
transition to independence and was murdered by the party for
allegedly maintaining overly close ties with the Portuguese.
Simango's brother, Deviz Simango, a member of RENAMO,
recently won the most contentious mayoral race in the 2003
municipal elections in Mozambique's second largest city of
Beira. Simango was complimentary of the new electoral law,
stating that it will create positive change in the upcoming
elections. PCN has developed a campaign slogan, "Five
objectives for Five Years (of governance)". The five
objectives are: justice, inclusivity, economic participation,
employment of youth and women, and a united nation. Simango
stressed that PCN has great internal capacity as a party of
intellectuals and businessmen. When asked why PCN joined
RENAMO-UE, Simango stated the party needed a "strong machine"
that could lend financial support and an image to their small
group of supporters. With a strong social base, RENAMO-UE was
the way for PCN to win parliamentary representation. Simango
believes that with the upcoming changes in government there
should be a reformed government philosophy that focuses on
developing the countryside, jump-starting the paralyzed
economy, and reforming "professional beggars" into
businessmen. Appearing as the only organized small party with
a leader competent to present realistic and coherent party
views, PCN will likely be successful in the 2004 legislative
elections if it remains part of the RENAMO-UE coalition.
7. (U) On May 12, 2004, the Parliament approved the new
general elections law, and soon after, the President of the
Republic, Joaquim Chissano, signed it into force. With the
exception of a few articles, most of the innovations in the
new electoral law were already part of the local elections
law, however, lessons learned from the 2003 municipal
elections made way for several important new additions. Those
articles most likely to affect change are Articles 53, 95,
and 98. Article 53 allows political party agents monitoring
the voting operations at polling stations to receive original
copies of the minutes and result tally sheets, signed and
stamped. Articles 95 and 98 authorize intermediary counting
to take place at the provincial level (as per the norm), yet,
votes must be counted district by district and results must
be summarized and presented in a chart, district by district,
and subsequently distributed and posted at all polling
stations. In theory, these changes will allow greater
transparency in the process by providing selected party
representatives with official results at the most basic level
and validating provincial electoral results by a
district-level breakdown. These additions came as a
compromise between FRELIMO and RENAMO-UE directly following
the 2003 municipal elections.
8. (U) In response to the new law, small parties tend to be
supportive of Article 53 and denounce Articles 95 and 98 as
"no new change". The four parties represented in our
discussions uniformly agree that greater access to official
results at each polling station is an improvement to
electoral transparency. On the other hand, small party forces
believe that district-level breakdown of votes at the
provincial level will still allow for fraud. How? Parties
allied with RENAMO, as part of the UE, complain that the
transportation of ballots from polling stations to provincial
electoral commission headquarters allows for tampering of the
process (i.e., the stealing and/or fabrication of votes).
Additionally, the parties complained that representatives of
the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and the Technical
Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE), that
administer the electoral process, are FRELIMO agents that
introduce fraud into the process. Finally, parties believe
that the most significant amount of fraud occurs during the
country's registration process. As Mozambique just finished
registration for the 2004 elections, there have been several
allegations by RENAMO-UE and small parties that RENAMO
supporters were refused registration. There is also fear
among the opposition that the 18-day period set aside for
registration is not enough time to adequately register all
voters. The opposition has requested a registration
extension, but the CNE has rejected this proposal.
9. (SBU) COMMENT: On the heels of the national elections, it
is clear that FRELIMO and RENAMO-UE will be the only true
competitors. Although competition between the two major
parties is likely to be hot, an honorable showing by small,
independent parties is not expected. The ten small parties
which form the RENAMO-UE coalition will benefit from the
support RENAMO-UE wins, and will likely win some legislative
representation in the Parliament. Independents like PIMO, PT,
and PAMOMO are unlikely to reach the 5% voter support
threshold necessary to put a candidate in Parliament.
10. (SBU) RENAMO-UE and small parties rightly complain and
contest certain electoral issues that may be cause for fraud
in the electoral process. However, these forces spend an
overwhelming amount of their time complaining and pointing
out "how bad" the situation is, that they generally discredit
themselves and their parties. Changes in the electoral law
should lead to a more transparent process in the 2004
elections. The 2003 municipal elections were declared "free
and fair" by the European Commission electoral expert group
and it is expected that the 2004 presidential and legislative
elections will run smoothly and on time (December 1-2).
Although it is difficult to predict whether FRELIMO or
RENAMO-UE will carry the most presidential or legislative
votes in 2004, there is significant national interest in the
outcome of the elections. On a small party front, the hope is
that by the next municipal or presidential/legislative
elections, more mature, developed, and capable third parties
will compete and elicit a chance of having their voices heard
at a national level. Through current USG programs, conducted
by the International Republican Institute (IRI), this
capacity-building is currently underway. END COMMENT.
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