Twelve years after the end of the civil war,
Mozambicans will bid farewell to wartime leader
Joaquim Chissano in presidential and parliamentary
elections on 1 and 2 December.
While some new parties have a chance to get into
parliament for the first time, the vote is going to
be dominated by the two civil war adversaries: the
governing Frelimo party and the former rebel
The Frelimo party remains overwhelmingly popular in the south
President Chissano is standing down in compliance
with a limit of two consecutive terms that the post-war constitution
on the presidency.
Frelimo's candidate is Armando Guebuza, who led
Frelimo's negotiating team during the Rome peace
that ended the war.
Veteran Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is making his
third electoral bid for the presidency.
Of the other three presidential candidates, the one
considered to have the best chance is Raul Domingos,
the former Renamo secretary general who is running
the presidency under the banner of his new Peace,
Democracy and Development Party (PDD).
Corruption and employment
Perhaps surprisingly for a party that has been in
power since 1975, Frelimo's campaign slogan is: "The
force for change". It is emphasising the progress
of recent years, and pledges to continue on the same
Frelimo remains overwhelmingly popular in the south
the country, which is the region that has seen the
most benefit from post-war investment. Even though
most people in the south remain poor, mistrust of
Renamo will ensure Frelimo an easy victory in this
Tackling corruption has been high on most parties'
campaign agenda, with the recent fourth anniversary
the death of journalist Carlos Cardoso drawing
particular attention to the issue.
Cardoso was gunned down in Maputo on 22 November
while investigating the theft of millions of dollars
during bank privatisations.
Many questions remain
unanswered about his death and about the corruption
that he was investigating, and Cardoso has become
something of a hero among politically conscious
For the poor, unemployment is still the first
Rapid economic growth, which reached 12% per annum
during the 1990s, has created many jobs, but, say
trade unions, not enough to compensate for the
140,000 jobs lost during the transition from
to capitalism in the early 1990s.
In the countryside, peasant farmers are most
about the value of their products, which has
in real terms since the liberalisation of the
The largely agricultural centre-north region of the
country was particularly badly hit by cutbacks in
cotton and cashew nut industries. It is here that
Renamo has its best chance of winning votes, though
wartime memories of the rebel movement remain
and many voters feel that no party truly represents
The PDD's Raul Domingos could do well in the central Zambezi valley
Raul Domingos' Renamo background - plus the fact
he is considered a more charismatic figure than Mr
Dhlakama - might allow PDD to take away some of the traditional Renamo
His core support will be in his home area, the central Zambezi
valley, and of the six smaller parties contesting the parliamentary
PDD is the most likely to break through the 5%
needed to send a representative to the national
The campaign has been calmer than in recent years,
though not without some violent incidents.
"Fewer than 10 people" have died and "fewer than 50" have been
injured during the course of campaigning, according
Felipe Mandlate, spokesman for the National
Each of the main parties has accused the others of harassment and/or intimidation,
election monitors, both Mozambican and foreign, say
they cannot see any systematic pattern of abuse.
The main point of contention between the monitors
the National Elections Commission (CNE), which
the poll, has been the question of access to the
Mozambique's vote tallying system has been praised
as transparent - up to a point. Representatives of
political parties, local NGOs and foreign observer
missions are allowed to scrutinise every stage of
the counting process to the delivery of the local
results to the provincial counting centres.
Renamo supporters are backing veteran leader Afonso Dhlakama
The observers are still worried that there may be
potential for manipulation in the tallying that is
done at provincial and national level, and when the
CNE makes its judgement on those ballot papers where
the mark made by the voter is ambiguous, and on the individual polling
station results sheets which might contain mathematical errors.
In the 1999 election, the CNE excluded nearly 7% of
polling stations from the presidential count, and reconsidered 500,000
doubtful ballot papers.
Monitors fear that in the event of a close
poll, arbitration on
this scale by the Frelimo-dominated CNE could affect
the final result.
Former US President Jimmy Carter and former Benin
President Nicefore Soglo are leading a delegation of observers from
the Atlanta-based Carter Center, and the European Union - which
contributed 13 million euros ($17m) to election funds - also has a high-profile
A coalition called the Electoral Observatory will
co-ordinate monitoring by Mozambican civil society
groups, and intends to carry out a parallel vote count
at 791 of the 13,000 voting stations.