EISA Mozambique: Electoral reform


CSO Action Plan to reform electoral management

Sep 2020-Mar 2021

Based on recommendations from citizen and international electoral observation groups and from the Constitutional Court during the last 25 years, a group of Mozambican Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) decided, as from September 2020, to come together to put in place an Action Plan aimed at influencing electoral management process in the country, with particular focus on legal reforms. EISA is involved in the process as a technical resource, thus facilitating the discussions and advising on a best approach to be adopted, based on the identified bottlenecks and on comparative experiences.

In December 2020, a face-to-face technical workshop was convened, taking into account COVID-19 protocols, in which core aspects requiring attention were identified. First quarter of 2021 was reserved for planning actions, as the involved actors mobilised resources for the advocacy and influencing process.


Cover of Legislação Eleitoral Mocambicana: Da Codificação à Harmonazição a Partir da Jurisprudência do Conselho Constitucional
Publication on harmonisation of electoral legislation

Jun 2020

EISA Mozambique's experience in monitoring the 2018 and 2019 elections showed that one of the major difficulties in the Mozambican electoral process is the lack of knowledge of the electoral legislation among the political actors. The fact that electoral laws are diverse - various laws regulating different aspects of the electoral system, making it difficult for the political actors, including the parliamentary political parties, to have a proper understanding of the legal framework, mainly the procedural aspects) partly explains that situation.

EISA saw this as an opportunity and in early 2020, EISA signed a collaboration protocol with the Constitutional Council and the Faculty of Law at Eduardo Mondlane University (see below), to produce incisive discussion material for the harmonisation of the proposes reforms (codification) of electoral legislation. Following the publication of this material (Legislação Eleitoral Mocambicana: Da Codificação à Harmonazição a Partir da Jurisprudência do Conselho Constitucional (Análise Crítica e Propostas)), it was shared between the main actors.

Due to the social distancing recommendations, the publication and debate about proposals for the harmonisation of electoral legislation was shared online in a webinar involving electoral management bodies - National Electoral Commission (CNE) and Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE), political parties, civil society, academics, in addition to the Constitutional Council/Court justices and the Faculty of Law representatives/professors.

MoUs with Constitutional Council (CC) and Faculty of Law of Eduardo Mondlane University

Jan 2020

With the objective of contributing to the harmonisation and/or stabilisation of electoral legal framework in Mozambique, which is subject to change in every elections, various Mozambican experts agreed that after 25 years of electoral democracy, Mozambique needs to have a harmonised electoral legal framework, believed to be critical in terms of knowledge of the regime by electoral actors in particular political parties. To date Mozambique has around 10 different electoral laws, each of them regulating a specific issue. EISA is positioning itself as the lead agent of the process in Mozambique. To effect this, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in January between EISA and the Constitutional Council (CC) and the Faculty of Law of Eduardo Mondlane University.


The political-military crisis in the country due to the conflict between the FRELIMO Government and the main opposition party, RENAMO, witnessed a major development in February 2018, when President Filipe Nyusi announced the main lines of agreement between the two regarding issues of decentralisation.

The EISA Country Director published a number of opinion pieces in traditional and social media, made presentations to the parliamentary committee in charge of legal reform, to joint meetings of the party parliamentary caucuses, and at parliamentary public hearings. Furthermore, he also made presentations to CSO and media workshops on the content of the approved and proposed reforms.

Constitutional amendments on decentralisation were made in June 2018 and Parliament approved two new bills in August: one revising the municipal government framework and the other revising the municipal elections framework, to bring these laws into line with the new Constitutional provisions.


The support for post-election reform initiatives in 2016 was the natural continuation of post-election assessment and review activities carried out in 2015. However, the ongoing process of negotiations between the government and RENAMO set the tone of the progress of public discussions on electoral reforms, as politicians and legislators alike perceived that the outcome of those negotiations would determine the shape of such reforms. Therefore EISA was able to support only limited activities in this programmatic area.

Nevertheless, the Mozambique office continued its support to post-election reform where it could, training of elected officials and support to party benches in Parliament. A matrix of electoral reform issues was developed and an implementation work-plan developed with The Carter Center. The first research papers were commissioned.

Electoral issues retreat for the Parliamentary Committee
Meeting with the Parliamentary Committee

May 2016

On 12 May the EISA Mozambique Country Director held a courtesy meeting with the Parliamentary Committee in charge of electoral reform to exchange ideas of how the two institutions can cooperate on the electoral reform process. The Committee expressed its openness to EISA's initiatives and EISA offered to provide the new Committee members with training on electoral issues.

Electoral issues retreat for the Parliamentary Committee

April 2016

EISA Mozambique and the Mozambican Parliament co-organised a retreat for the Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration and Local Government on electoral issues on 8 and 9 of April in the town of Namaacha in southern Mozambique. This Committee will be in charge of reviewing and revising the electoral legislation in Mozambique. Sixteen of the Committee's seventeen members attended the retreat.

MPs were trained on topics related to electoral systems, models of electoral management, and the evolution of Mozambican electoral legislation from 1993 to 2014.

The retreat also discussed possible innovations to the Mozambican electoral process and legislation, such as consolidating Electoral issues retreat for the Parliamentary Committeethe five electoral laws into a unified electoral code, improving the results management system in order to make it simpler, more transparent and faster, the issue of extending voting rights to patients in hospitals and prisoners, and expanding the use of technology in elections, including electronic voter identification and voting systems.

Presenters included the EISA Country Director, legal and human rights experts, senior EMB members, and IT experts.


On 1 April the Mozambique office began implementing new activities support to political parties and elected officials as well as additional electoral reform activities. A matrix of electoral reform issues was been developed and an implementation work-plan developed with The Carter Center.

Sep & Dec 2015 Stakeholder roundtables

Following the February roundtable, a number of expert presentations on key electoral reform topics were commissioned, presented and discussed at two stakeholder roundtables in Maputo in September and December 2015 co-organised with The Carter Center.

Topics covered in this process were:

  • Women's participation in the electoral process;
  • the composition and independence of electoral management bodies;
  • results management;
  • electoral dispute management; and
  • campaign finance regulations

The presentations were made by Dr Ray Kennedy, an international elections expert hired by the TCC, and Miguel de Brito, EISA Mozambique Country Director. Dr Kennedy argued that, regardless of their composition, the issue of independence, impartiality, and credibility of election management bodies in the eyes of the public is paramount, while EISA offered examples of more non-partisan models of election management where political parties can still play a role without dominating the process.

Although there were no concrete agreement on what specific measures can be undertaken to simplify the results management process, suggestions were made to make the tabulation regulations for each level more specific and clearer, and to reduce the number of geographic levels of tabulation. It was also proposed that the election management bodies look into speedier and more advanced results transmission mechanisms

Conversely, there was little enthusiasm for significantly changing the current campaign finance regulations. Both presenters stressed the negative impact of lax campaign finance regulations on the integrity and transparency of electoral processes, and offered examples of how other countries regulate both the transparency of donations, and the level of campaign-related expenditures. Local participants however, were more concerned with a timelier disbursement of public campaign finance funds under the current legal framework rather than introducing new requirements for disclosure of donations and expenditures, as well as caps on expenditures.

The proceedings of these roundtables were incorporated into electoral law reform proposals to be submitted to Parliament in 2016.

May 2015 Meeting with Parliamentary Committee in charge of electoral reform

On 12 May, the EISA Mozambique Country Director had a courtesy meeting with the Parliamentary Committee in charge of electoral reform to exchange ideas of how the two institutions can cooperate on the electoral reform process. The Committee expressed its openness to EISA's initiatives and EISA offered to provide the new Committee members with training on electoral issues.

Feb 2015 Stakeholder roundtable on post-election recommendations

A joint roundtable hosted by EISA, TCC and the European Union Election Observation Missions (EOMs) in Maputo in February presented their post-election recommendations to a group of Mozambican stakeholders, including the election management body (EMB), political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs), representatives of the judiciary and the legislature, and academics.

2013: Support for new electoral legislation

The Mozambican Parliament approved new electoral legislation, including a new law on the National Elections Commission (CNE), in December 2012. According to the new law, the new CNE, the eleven provincial electoral commissions (CPEs) and the 160 district electoral commissions (CDEs) should have three civil society representatives. These representatives were to be selected from among candidates put forward by legally constituted civil society organisations.

EISA, in conjunction with the Electoral Observatory (OE), facilitated the process of selecting civil society candidates for the CNE and the eleven CPEs. A total of eleven provincial civil society fora, with the participation of more than 200 CSOs, took place between mid- February and late March 2013. Out of each forum, a list of candidates was submitted to the current CNE for the selection of 3 members and 3 alternates for each CPE. In addition, EISA and the OE facilitated two CSO meetings in Maputo, with more than 100 participants to select the civil society representatives for the CNE.

As a result of this process, 3 CSO representatives were selected by parliament for the new Electoral Commission among which the new Commission Chairperson, Sheik Abdul Carimo Sau, former Executive Director of the Electoral Observatory and an EISA EOM alumnus.


The very slow process of electoral legislation reform led by the Mozambican parliament continued in 2012, culminating with the approval of five electoral laws in December. The process was rife with fundamental disagreements between the two main parties in parliament, FRELIMO and RENAMO with the latter voting against the approval of the laws. EISA actively supported the process from the outset by facilitating space for consensus-building among the parliamentary parties, and providing extensive and tailor-made technical input on issues where parties disagreed fundamentally.

Again in 2012, EISA supported and facilitated a third retreat for the parliamentary committee in charge of electoral reform, where bottlenecks in the electoral reform process were deeply discussed with input from EISA experts. The retreat took place in March 2012 and discussed the composition and selection process of the Electoral Commission, which was the main issue of contention between the two parties.

Proposals put forward by EISA that found their way into the new legislation include:

  • The need for timely and comprehensive publication of all Elections Commissions decisions and documentation.
  • The inclusion of citizen observers (domestic observers) in the groups that are allowed to vote where they are deployed on election day.
  • The clarification of the procedures for selecting the civil society candidates to the Elections Commission.
  • The timely publication of the full list of polling stations, their code numbers and the number of registered voters in each polling station.
  • The elimination of the necessity for a residency certificate for parliamentary and local government candidates.

Through EISA's support the quality of electoral legislation improved through electoral reform workshops with the parliamentary committee in charge of electoral reform.


EISA actively supported the electoral reform process by facilitating space for consensus building among the parliamentary parties and providing extensive and tailor-made technical input on issues where parties disagree fundamentally.


In collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), EISA supported and facilitated two retreats for the parliamentary committee in charge of electoral reform, where bottlenecks in the electoral reform process were intensely discussed with input from EISA experts. This was the first opportunity that EISA had to have an interactive discussion with the Parliamentary Committee to explain in detail some of the proposals EISA had submitted in September 2010 during a public audience in Parliament.

The first retreat was held on 22 and 23 June 2011 and dealt primarily with topics such as the composition and selection process of the Electoral Commission and the creation of locallevel electoral tribunals. Three presentations were made to the committee members, namely, an introduction to electoral systems, a systematic explanation of election management models and a detailed proposal for the introduction of local level electoral tribunals. All presentations were discussed at length by the committee members, who used the workshop format to elicit clarifications from the presenters on design and implementation issues, both for the EMB and the electoral tribunals.

The second retreat took place from 24 to 25 November 2011. The topics discussed during the workshop focused on detailed options for the composition and appointment of members of the National Electoral Commission, the role of the Technical Secretariat for Election Administration and its relationship with the National Electoral Commission and voter registration. EISA experts made presentations on each topic followed by intensive discussions among committee members.

Parliamentary study visit

From 11 to 15 April, EISA and NIMD co-sponsored a study visit by three members of the Parliamentary Committee in charge of electoral reform, as well as representatives of the three parties in the Mozambican parliament, to Ghana and Mali in order for them to learn from the widely-praised Ghanaian experience with election management and from the on-going Malian electoral reform process.

In Ghana, the delegation met with the Electoral Commission, who made a detailed presentation on the powers, structure, composition, selection process and independence of the body. The Commission also spoke at length of important aspects of election management in Ghana, such as the importance of transparency of decisions, access by all stakeholders to all relevant information, dialogue between the EMB and political parties and technical issues related to voter registration and voters' roll management.

In Mali, the Mozambican delegation had a very informative meeting with the Commission for Institutional Reform (CARI), which is in charge of reforming the election management framework in Mali. The delegation and CARI discussed in detail the planned changes to the Malian election management structure and the different models studied by CARI in Ghana and Canada, amongst others.

Gender balance

Throughout its support for electoral reform, EISA has motivated for measures that promote greater gender equality through proposals such as: The new electoral legislation should promote gender balance and parity in all aspects of the electoral process in Mozambique, in line with the 2008 SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, of which Mozambique is a signatory. More specifically:

  • All parties should be compelled to submit candidates lists for parliament and both provincial and municipal assemblies that include at least 50 percent of women and the lists should be structured in such a way as to ensure that women candidates are in electable positions.
  • At least 40 percent of mayoral candidates put forward by each party should be women.
  • At least 40 percent of the members of the National Elections Commission and of their sub-national representatives should be women.


The Mozambique office undertook an in-house diagnostic study of the challenges affecting the credibility of elections in Mozambique. The study was based on EISA 's own knowledge of the electoral processes in Mozambique, as well as on reports by domestic and international observers and by Mozambican institutions such as the Constitutional Council. Additionally, the Mozambique office, in collaboration with the Electoral Observatory (a coalition of eight Mozambican civil society organisations working with electoral processes), facilitateda number of provincial consultation meetings with a view to collecting inputs from local CSOs on ways to improve the electoral legislation.

The diagnostic study and the recommendations from the provincial workshops served as a basis for EISA Mozambique to develop a set of concrete proposals for electoral reform. Issues covered included EMB functions, structure, composition and selection, electoral dispute resolution mechanisms, voter registration and voters' roll management, gender equity, among others, and received wide media coverage in Mozambique.

These proposals were presented orally at a public hearing organised by the parliamentary committee in charge of electoral reform and later as a written submission to the committee in September. EISA also lobbied the committee to allow an additional window of opportunity for public comments once the draft legislation is ready. In its December retreat, the committee agreed to add a period of public consultation to the reform process calendar after September 2011, when a draft Bill would be ready for comments.


By the beginning of 2007, the main objectives of the Electoral Reform component had been achieved, and EISA Mozambique broadened it's work to include support to civil society organisations in the selection of their representatives in the new Election Management Body (EMB) and the provision of capacity-building support to the new EMB. The issue of electoral reform was not taken up again until 2010.


The main objective, as far as electoral reform was concerned, was to advocate for changes to electoral legislation ahead of the 2007-2009 electoral cycle in order to improve the management of elections and enhance their transparency and credibility. To do this EISA commissioned 12 position papers and studies and used them to support 30 country wide workshops where civil society discussed proposals and developed a set of very detailed recommendations for changes to legislation. These emerged through consensus building workshops in Maputo that involved all stakeholders. After the submission of those recomendations to parliament, EISA engaged the relevant parliamentary committee and the party benches of FRELIMO and RENAMO to lobby for acceptance of these recommendations. In December 2006 parliament approved a new set of electoral laws that included the most important recommendations from civil society. A new formula for the composition of the National Electoral Commission was adopted with eight of thirteen seats allocated to CSOs.


Post-elections evaluation workshop

To ensure that post-elections evaluation and identification of followup activities to address such problems, a post 2004 election evaluation workshop was conducted in March 2005 that brought together Mozambican stakeholders as well as representatives from international NGOs operating in Mozambique in the area of elections and the main international observer missions fielded during the 2004 elections.

In order to reinforce the collaboration between the NGOs and political parties EISA promoted a partnership with the Association of Western European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD) and the Konrad Adenauer Stifting (KAS). In the first part of the workshop national researchers presented on themes such as voter registration, candidates and campaigning, voting process and counting and disputes. In the second presentations were made by the Chair of the Malawi Electoral Commission on the experiences of that country and by EISA's Executive Director on types of EMB's in the SADC.

The workshop was conceived to create a space for an exchange of views on the electoral process between all stakeholders, the discussions were open and constructive and a broad consensus was reached on the main problems and constraints on the Mozambican electoral process. In particular the difficulties created by the partisanship of the National Electoral Commission were emphasised. From this came a report that was published in April 2006 and that was officially requested from EISA by the ad hoc Commission for the Revision of Electoral Legislation.

Electoral reform work initiated

In 2005 a new set of objectives was adopted for EISA Mozambique, the first of which was to support electoral reform initiatives. This flowed from a conference, Electoral Justice and Equity, that EISA in cooperation with the Centre for Democracy and Development Studies (CEDE) organised in Maputo in October 2004, which offered Mozambican civil society an opportunity to express its experiences, concerns and recommendations regarding elections in Mozambique, within the framework of electoral justice and equity. It brought together representatives of civil society organizations, state institutions (particularly those with electoral management responsibilities), political parties, academics and the media.

This work was augmented in March 2005 with a post 2004 election evaluation workshop that brought together representatives from international NGOs operating in Mozambique and the main international observer missions fielded during the 2004 elections. From this came a report that was published in April 2006 that was officially requested from EISA by the ad hoc Commission for the Revision of Electoral Legislation.

In November 2005, in partnership with the Christian and Islamic Councils and AMODE, EISA mozambique organised 30 workshops for public debate on electoral reform by local civil society actors in all ten provinces. EISA used this opportunity to source possible authors for research papers on electoral reform.

These meetings highlighted a number of concerns and issues that Mozambicans regard as important and that play a role in ensuring the consolidating of democracy. The issues and concerns raised related to voter registration, public media coverage of elections, the relationship between elected leaders and voters, the composition of the electoral authority, electoral conflict management and low voter turnout.

The result of the public debate was compiled into The Voice of the People, an un-edited volume containing opinions of the people, that was forwarded to Parliament. The volume was also given to the national experts EISA sourced, who conducted in-depth analysis of key aspects of the electoral process and made recommendations that were presented at a Seminar in June. After this seminar the experts revised their papers and an EISA where an editor crystalised the key recommendations which were then submitted to the Parliamentary standing committee responsible for leading the electoral reform debate.