Journalists commit to fair communication on Mozambique election

25 Sep 2009

Maputo, 24 September 2009 - “Being impartial, truthful and not influencing the voter in any way will be the key principles guiding me during the current election campaign.” This was the lesson that journalist Ms. Ermelinda Nhatave from Radio Terra Verde learned during the workshop in Maputo on 10 September. She was one of the 220 journalists trained on electoral processes in Mozambique during the first weeks of September.

UNDP has helped to set up a series of workshops for journalists around the country to support the country's efforts to guarantee free and fair elections on 28 October. The institution that is responsible for this process is called "Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration" (STAE). It is supervised by the National Elections Commission, the independent body that manages the election process. The training focused on the role of the free press in the elections and the implications of the electoral laws on news journalism. The goal is to increase awareness of the importance of free and fair election coverage among journalists.

During the 10 September workshop, a number of topics such as the role of parties, electoral procedures and the rules relating to political campaigning were raised. A point that was discussed thoroughly was the occasional discrepancy between the letter of the law and its application. The use of state resources for campaigning was another issue that was touched upon.

The importance of understanding the law was also emphasized. A veteran journalist, Filimaõ Saveca from the newspaper Correio da Manhã, said that the information received on electoral laws will definitely have a bearing on his job as a journalist. He was fully aware of the role of the press in promoting civic education.

Saveca and his colleague Ermelinda Nhatave voiced strong beliefs in the democratic development of Mozambique and said they intended to use their rights as voters. At the same time, the journalists said that political tensions might impact on their work. There was higher uncertainty about election results than during the last elections.

Mozambique's presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections will take place on  28 October. A total of 29 parties will take part in the parliamentary and provincial elections. Only three parties were able to bring forward candidates for the presidential elections. The present president, Armando Guebuza, is the candidate of the ruling party, FRELIMO. His long-time opponent from the main opposition party, RENAMO, is Afonso Dlhakama. Deviz Simago is the candidate of a new party called the Mozambican Democratic Movement, also known as MDM.

UNDP’s governance programme is working closely with the national election bodies in their work to guarantee fair, free and efficiently managed elections. A central aspect of this joint effort is to try to engage different stakeholders in the electoral process in order to build on the positive democratization process of Mozambique.

• See also: Mozambique prepares for October elections
Mozambican Election website, in Portuguese