Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Election Day!

Wednesday was the big Election Day here in Mozambique. Michelle, Nancy, and I along with our translator Charles went along to different polling stations in the city and spoke to voters waiting in line.

There was one lady who we met at the school who actually taught English/Portuguese to students in a private business. She explained that she was born in a small country on the coast of Western Africa in Cape Verde. Since her father worked for the bank, her family had to move to Mozambique when she was a little girl. Therefore, she considered herself a full Mozambican citizen. After we exchanged emails and said our goodbyes, Michelle and I went into the polling station and observed the process. Then, we went outside to look at the list of people who were allowed to vote. I tried looking for the name of our new friend, but I could not find it. Could she have been a victim of election fraud by Frelimo? We were debating whether or not we should go tell her while she was still waiting in line, but decided we shouldn’t because we were only election observers, not the election police.

Another man we spoke to was incredibly well informed and mature. He explained that he believes Mozambique to be his home and appreciates what Frelimo has done for the country, but he also expressed some doubts about how the election process tries to eliminate any competition. He was pretty hopeful about MDM and how it provided another alternative. However, I still think that he was a Frelimo supporter.

Finally, at the last polling station that we visited, I saw two very professionally dressed ladies sitting on the steps. I asked them whether or not they would like to share their views of the election. One of the ladies replied, “I am the Minister of Natural Resources – what do you think I am going to say?” I just smiled and walked away, but I felt really bad for her because she cannot express what she really thinks. While Mozambique has freedom of speech, do the people really have that freedom if they are so afraid of upsetting the ruling political party? I think not.

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