Poor Conditions Cause Breakdown of Election Commission’s Computers in Mozambique


The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service, says that the repeated breakdowns of computers used in the current voter registration are due to poor working conditions. STAE general director Felisberto Naife told AIM that the equipment is functioning in poor conditions, exposed to dust and rain.

Naife said that "a computer, even if normally used in an office, will have problems. Now imagine this situation where if it is functioning in the open air, and subject to dust and other conditions. Because of that, there have been operational problems. We are speaking about the real Mozambique".

He added that "all kinds of equipments, particularly electronic ones, when they are exposed to different types of environments will have their own reactions. There have been poor conditions for storing the equipment. But these are the conditions we have in the districts".

The problem of poor functioning and repeated breakdowns of the electronic equipments used in voter registration was first noted in the 2007 registration, when the entire electorate was re-registered from scratch. So serious were the problems that the National Elections Commission (CNE) even threatened to sue Insitec, the Mozambican company that won the tender, and supplied the computers.

This time there have been no threats, and the problem is not as serious because this year's exercise is simply an updating of the registers, aimed mainly at people who attain the voting age of 18 prior to the election date of 28 October.

Naife said that the equipment that suffers breakdowns must be repaired and have defective parts replaced. But he ruled out a further massive import of new equipment. STAE must continue to use these machines, he added, because the government spent a great deal of money in acquiring them.

"This equipment cost a lot, and, taking into account the number of voters to be covered this year, it would make no sense to just discard them all and purchase new computers", said Naife. "The production of this equipment takes time. It is not available in the shops, and has to be ordered".

The current registration began on 15 June, and is due to end on 29 July. STAE's target is to register 483,150 potential voters. This is in addition to the 9.3 million people who are already on the electoral registers, thanks to the registration in 2007 and 2008.