Mozambique: Multiparty elections of October 1994

Extracted from: "Mozambique" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 197-200.

Late on 26 October, the eve of the elections, Renamo leader Dhlakama caused a crisis by announcing his party's withdrawal from the elections. The reason was so-called evidence that the CNE planned to rig the elections in favour of the government. A flurry of diplomatic activity ensued and in the morning of 28 October Dhlakama called off the boycott after Onumoz had given him the assurance that it would examine Renamo's complaints before declaring the elections free and fair. As a result, the elections were extended by one day, until 29 October.

Meanwhile, on 27 October, Mozambicans had begun to turn out in large numbers to vote, despite the boycott. The situation was calm and peaceful, despite initial tension, and remained so throughout. With about 52 000 polling officers serving at 7 244 polling stations, the logistical side of the election was even more complex and comprehensive than the protracted voter registration process. In addition, there were around 35 000 monitors, looking after the interests of the various political parties, and more than 2 300 impartial observers, recruited by Onumuz, to officially monitor the process. There were also a large number of non-official observers and journalists from abroad attending the occasion.

In order to promote transparency and to avoid disputes, the first count was done at each polling station, immediately after the close of the ballotting on the third day, and the results of both elections - presidential and legislative - made known. Thereafter the ballots were taken under escort to the CNE's provincial headquarters for counting within seven days, followed by their dispatch, again under escort, to the CNE-STAE headquarters in Maputo for the national count within a further seven days. Because of the promises made earlier to the Renamo leader, recounts were done, causing further delay.

The CNE announced the final results of both elections on 19 November and on the same day Special Envoy Ajello declared that the elections had been free and fair.

In the presidential election President Chissano was returned to office, having received 2,63 million votes or 53,3 per cent of the total valid votes. Hence a second round of the election was not necessary. Afonso Dhlakama came second with 1,67 million votes or 33,7 per cent of the total. The other ten contestants together could muster only 13 per cent of the 4,94 million valid votes (for more detail see 1994 Presidential election results).

Only three of the 14 parties that contested the election to the national legislature won enough votes to cross the threshold of five per cent of the total vote and to be allocated seats in the 250-seat Assembly of the Republic. Frelimo came first with 2,1 million votes - 518 000 less than the total gained by President Chissano - or 44,3 per cent of the total valid votes and was allocated 129 seats. As Renamo's 1,8 million votes - nearly 137 000 more than the total for Dhlakama in the presidential election - or 37,8 per cent of the total vote gave it 112 seats in the Assembly, the two main opponents came to control 96 per cent of the Assembly seats. Having won about 246 000 votes or 5,15% of the total vote, the Democratic Union, led by Antonio Palange, got nine seats. As a result, the margin between Frelimo and the opposition shrunk to an overall majority for Frelimo of only eight seats (see 1994 Assembly of the Republic results for more detail).

The percentage poll in both elections, presidential and legislative, was almost 88 per cent, a most satisfactory outcome in view of the great effort that went into the education of the electorate. Nevertheless, the proportion of invalid ballot papers in both elections was comparatively high: 8,5 per cent of the total votes cast in the presidential election and 14,4 per cent in the legislative election. The largest proportion of the spoilt papers was blank ballots, which could be interpreted as a form of abstention from the voting by voters who were unsure for whom to vote. There was a greater proportion of invalid ballots (blank and spoilt papers) in the rural areas, a trend that can perhaps be explained by the higher rate of illiteracy among the peasant communities.

The voter behaviour in both the presidential and legislative elections was largely similar. Renamo did surprisingly well, especially in the legislative election, by capturing just over half of the combined vote in the country's two most populous provinces, that is Nampula and Zambezia, accounting for 40 per cent of the total number of registered voters (see 1994 Assembly of the Republic results by province for more detail). Frelimo won in the other two, though much less populous, provinces of northern Mozambique - Niassa and Cabo Delgado. In central Mozambique Renamo won all three provinces, accounting for slightly less than 20 per cent of the registered electorate. The voters gave Renamo overwhelming support (77% of the total votes) in only one province, namely Sofala whose capital is the city of Beira. In all the other provinces Renamo received less than 58 per cent of the vote. Interestingly however, the five provinces where Renamo enjoy majority support form one contiguous territory from Nampula, in the north, to the Save River in the south, accounting for 52 per cent of Mozambique's total land area and 60 per cent of the total registered voters.

South of the Save River Frelimo made a clean sweep as it received overwhelming support - around 80 per cent of the votes - in the provinces of Gaza, Maputo and Maputo City (the smallest province and accommodating about 464 000 voters or 8% of the electorate). Frelimo also took Inhambane, but this was the province where the smaller parties put up their best performance by garnering altogether 30 per cent of the vote, notably the Democratic Union with almost 12 per cent. Thus Frelimo's victories in southern Mozambique - containing 27 per cent of the registered electorate - and the two provinces in the far north, with 13 per cent of the electorate, seemed to substantiate the traditional perception that it was a party of the south and the far north. The provinces that gave it majority support cover 48 per cent of the country's territory.

In reality however, support for Frelimo in all of the 11 provinces was proportionately much larger than the support for Renamo. In the six provinces where Frelimo enjoyed majority support almost 68 per cent of the electorate, on average, voted for the ruling party, but an average of just under 55 per cent voted for Renamo in the five provinces taken by this party. Moreover, in the last mentioned provinces Frelimo's share of the vote was over 28 per cent, on average, more than double the 14 per cent voting for Renamo in the Frelimo strongholds. This factor and the overwhelming majorities it obtained in most of the southern provinces carried the day for Frelimo and its leader.

Further analysis of the election results revealed that urban residents, in general, showed a propensity to vote for Frelimo, with Renamo leading by a slight margin in the rural areas. This trend was ascribed to the benefits enjoyed in the urban areas under single-party rule, while the peasants bore the brunt of Frelimo's failed social and agricultural policies. The results also confirmed a regional distribution of votes in favour of either Frelimo or Renamo, a pattern that had developed during the war years and corresponded with certain ethnic affiliations. There was a strong identification with Frelimo among the southern Shangana-Tsonga population that produced most of the party's historic leaders and the majority of its cadres in the struggle for liberation. And it was in the far northern provinces, especially among the Makonde people, that the struggle was waged for the longest time and where Frelimo's pre-independence presence and impact was at its strongest. The strong electoral support for Frelimo in those areas therefore came as no surprise.

Similarly, the Shona-speaking communities of central Mozambique - the birthplace of Renamo's top leaders - maintained the guerrillas during the civil war and came to accept their political and military dominance. Those who did not do so voluntarily probably voted against Renamo in the elections. The adjoining northern provinces of Zambezia and Nampula - the home areas of the populous Makua-Lomwe peoples - provided the bulk of the troops recruited by the Portuguese army to fight the Frelimo insurgents, infiltrating from the north. After independence many of the discharged soldiers joined Renamo, which brought large parts of Zambezia and Nampula under its control. Contributing to Renamo's election victories in central and northern Mozambique was the perception among the people that, after independence, the Frelimo state neglected them.