Gaza is Mozambique’s Most Politically Intolerant Province, Study Says
A Deep Dive into the Study
An extensive study by the Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD) has flagged five provinces in Mozambique – Nampula, Zambézia, Sofala, Gaza, and Tete – as the most susceptible to electoral violence. The assessment, which scrutinizes the 2014 and 2019 general elections along with the 2018 local elections, identifies political intolerance, obstruction of party caravan routes, and intimidation as the predominant types of electoral incidents. Among the provinces, Gaza stands out with the highest level of political intolerance.
The IMD’s research suggests that the electoral campaign phase is the most prone to deteriorate into violence, with the likelihood of illegal acts escalating as the elections approach. The intensity of the competition between the leading political parties in these regions, which often have a slight edge in support over each other, is attributed as a cause of this violence.
Rising Tension and Curiosity: Catalysts for Violence
Two other elements that contribute to the eruption of violent episodes during the electoral process include the curiosity and tension surrounding the release of election results. The IMD emphasizes that such occurrences undermine the democracy in Mozambique, stressing the importance of ensuring the full exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of individuals, beyond merely conducting elections.
Addressing the Issue: The Role of Civic Education
Proposing a solution to the problem, researcher Glécio Massango recommends the implementation of regular electoral civic education. However, he acknowledges that the limited timeframe may not provide people with ample opportunity to fully absorb democratic values. This is particularly relevant considering that the next electoral campaign for the municipal elections is slated to commence soon, on September 26th, with the elections planned for October 11th.
Gaza: The Most Problematic Province
Gaza province is identified by the IMD as exhibiting political intolerance at all stages of the electoral process. This makes the election campaign especially challenging for opposition parties and observers. Dércio Alfazema, programme director at IMD, accentuates that these electoral incidents compromise democracy in Mozambique, and it is not sufficient for countries to hold elections in the context of a full democracy. The full exercise of the constitutionally foreseen rights and freedoms of people must also be ensured.
The findings of the IMD study shed light on the pressing issue of electoral violence in Mozambique, pinpointing key areas of concern and providing valuable insights into the underlying causes. Ensuring peaceful and fair elections not only contributes to the democratic process but also fosters stability and development. While electoral civic education is a step in the right direction, it is clear that a multifaceted approach involving all stakeholders is necessary to address this complex issue effectively.
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