Zimbabwe will lead the SADC Elections Observer Mission (SEOM) to the Mozambican general elections scheduled for October 15, as part of its mandate as chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over the chairmanship of the organ at the 39th SADC Heads of State and Government summit in Dar es Salaam in August. It was previously held by Zambia President Edgar Lungu.
In this role, President Mnangagwa is tasked with spearheading peace initiatives in all political endeavours in the region, including elections.
Mnangagwa has since tasked Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri to lead the SEOM to Mozambique.
In a statement last week, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry spokesperson Shepard Gwenzi said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was expected to launch SEOM’s agenda in Maputo early this week.
“As mandated by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security Co-operation, Honourable Oppah CZ Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Minister of Defence and War Veterans, will lead the SEOM to the Republic of Mozambique, during the period 2 to 22 October, 2019.
“Hon Muchinguri-Kashiri will launch SEOM Mozambique on Monday 7 October, 2019 and to release the preliminary statement on the conduct of the elections on Thursday, 17 October, 2019,” read part of the statement.
The minister is being accompanied by Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, who will be the alternate head of mission and other senior government officials. While on the mission, Muchinguri-Kashiri was expected to work closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the elections were conducted in a free, fair and credible manner.
Her team is expected to monitor the observance of SADC election principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections during the presidential, provincial and legislative polls.
“The core mandate of the SEOM shall be to determine the adherence of the Republic of Mozambique to democratic values and principles envisioned in the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, and the provisions of the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015),” read part of the statement.
Four candidates, including incumbent President Filipe Nyusi of the Frelimo party and the leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade, are vying for presidency.
Meanwhile, Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, on Wednesday demanded the dismissal of Interior Minister Basilio Monteiro, following the assassination on Monday of prominent civil society activist, Anastacio Matavel.
Matavel, a leading figure in election observation, was shot dead in broad daylight, as he was leaving an observation training session in the southern city of Xai-Xai. But the assassins became involved in a traffic accident in which two of them died, two were arrested, and a fifth is on the run.
On Tuesday the General Command of the Mozambican police announced that four of the assassins were members of the police force. For the first time the existence of a death squad, operating inside the police, was proved.
At a Maputo press conference, the Renamo general secretary, Andre Majibire, condemned the “barbaric murder”, adding that “the saddest and most chilling aspect is that we were informed, through the police spokesperson, that the victim was assassinated by police agents”.
“The police, whose primary mission is to defend national sovereignty, and defend citizens and their goods, has today become a killer of those whom it once swore to defend,” accused Majibire.
Majibire demanded the immediate dismissal of Monteiro “because he is incompetent in the fight against crime, and above all because his ministry is in charge of the police force”.
He had no doubt that Matavel was murdered because of the impending general and provincial elections. Majibire believed it was an attempt to intimidate and silence all those who want to ensure that the elections are fair and transparent.
“We want to urge all Mozambicans to remain vigilant as we approach voting day,” he added.
The independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique” has also called on Monteiro to resign or, if he refuses to go, for President Filipe Nyusi to sack him.
The paper does not believe that the measures announced by the General Commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, of suspending two provincial commanders, and setting up an inquiry that will report in 15 days, would prove effective.
“Society needs a more vigorous signal from the state and from the political class that gives orders to the police,” it said. “This signal can only be given by the dismissal of Basilio Monteiro, as the minister who has supplied most oxygen to the death squads. He is the potential moral author of the assassination of Anastacio Matavel.”
The paper did not believe that the killers who struck down Matavel were acting on their own: instead they were executing “an order given centrally, obeying the hierarchical nature of the police command”.
Meanwhile, about 5,000 election observers have still not received their credentials from the provincial elections commissions, even though the lists of observers’ names were submitted weeks ago. According to the electoral law, credentials for observers must be issued within five days of receiving their applications.
The spokesperson for the National Elections Commission (CNE), Paulo Cuinica, told AIM on Wednesday afternoon that the problem was being overcome and that “all observers will be accredited”.
He denied reports of discrimination in the issuing of credentials, with groups thought to favour the ruling Frelimo Party receiving their credentials promptly while other applications are pushed to one side.
“This is not true,” said Cuinica. “The credentials for all observers will be issued.”
- The Sunday Mail/AIM.