December 4, 2007

7.5 Million voters registered

About 7.5 million Mozambicans have registered as voters from September to December 2007, according to Felisberto Naife, general director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service. Based on the preliminary data from the August population census, STAE estimates the potential electorate (Mozambicans aged 18 and above) at 10.4 million. The number already registered is 72 per cent of that figure. In the last complete voter registration, in 1999, slightly less than 7.1 million people registered, which was about 85 per cent of the estimated electorate. No country ever registers 100 per cent of its potential electorate, and the 1999 percentage was regarded as a success. To repeat it this time will require a total registration of 8.85 million voters. That means that the registration brigades need to register a further 1.65 million people between mid-January and mid-March.
The tight timetable caused enormous difficulties. Each registration brigade was supposed to have a computer, a digital camera, a printer, a scanner and other electronic equipment. But by 24 September, the date when all brigades were supposed to start registering voters, the great majority of this equipment had not yet arrived in the country. Some brigades spent up to a month waiting for equipment before they could start their job. Even those who did have computers found the going extremely slow which sometimes led to long queues at the registration posts. "The electoral bodies have hade enormous efforts to overcome the problems on the ground", Naife said. "The number of voters registered so far encourages us to work harder to reach the planned targets". Naife thought it was still quite possible to register the full 10.4 million people of voting age believed to exist in Mozambique - despite the fact that it is now the middle of the rainy season. However, severe flooding in central Mozambique will make it very difficult for the voter registration brigades to resume their work in some areas, which currently cannot be reached by road. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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