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Angola Elects 2022 — Issue #4
Official results show big lead for MPLA - but it is likely to be contested
Amid multiple reports of vote-counting irregularities, election administration body the CNE presented results showing an almost unassailable lead for the ruling MPLA party this morning — and refused to take questions from journalists.
Official results released at 10:45am local time give the MPLA a nine point lead over Unita, with the incumbent winning 52% of the vote versus 43% for the opposition, with 86.41% of the vote counted.
The remaining 5% is divided between other parties, none of which seems likely to get enough votes to win a seat in parliament.
Unita has a strong lead in the capital, Luanda, where 77% of the votes have been counted. Unita has 63% there, to the MPLA’s 33%. Unita is also in the lead in Zaire province, with 52.25% to the MPLA’s 36.14%.
The ruling MPLA is leading in all the other 16 provinces, however — and with only 13% of the total vote yet to be counted, it is a very tall order for Unita to overcome its 52:43 deficit.
The results confound voter intention surveys taken before the poll, which consistently showed Unita with a strong lead. A parallel count being conducted by civil society group Movimento Civico Mudei is currently showing a strong lead for Unita, but that is based on less than 2% of results so far, likely heavily skewed towards Luanda where the CNE agrees that Unita has won.
But the results are likely to be contested by the opposition and their supporters. Multiple reports have emerged of polling stations not posting their results on their doors, as required by law. Those results are what can be fed into the parallel count — but they are few and far between. Instead, results are being sent by polling staff to municipal authorities, who then forward them to CNE — with little or no transparency over what result is being sent.
There may be trouble ahead.
Battle over vote counts
The first salvo in the battle for the count came from the CNE (National Electoral Commission), at 1:00am last night. A CNE spokesperson announced that after 33.16% of the votes had been counted, the MPLA was leading with 60.65% and Unita was behind with 33.85%. Immediately after the CNE announcement, a set of commentators was brought onto TPA, the public TV channel which the opposition says is a government propaganda tool, saying that this was a clear victory for the ruling party, despite it being “too early to start festivities”. CNE did not provide any further details or context about the vote count.
Unita contested the results released and Abel Chivukuvuku, number two on the party's national list and candidate for vice president, told journalists and observers that the party has “clear provisional indicators of a victory all over the country”. Speaking at the same press conference in the early hours of Thursday morning, Filomeno Viera Lopes, from the Democratic Bloc within the Unita coalition, said that the party had won 65% of the vote in Luanda, the main electoral constituency in the country. He did however concede that the MPLA won the Quissama municipality, in the far south of the province.
Angolan social media is awash with highly divergent sets of numbers being circulated from voting intention polls, exit polls and parallel counts. Yesterday TPA broadcast results of a voting intention poll by Spanish public opinion firm Sigma Dos, which indicated that the MPLA would receive 53.6% of the vote, versus 42.4% for Unita. However, an exit poll from Movimento Civico Mudei indicated a strong lead for Unita, albeit using a very small sample size. The same organisation’s parallel count so far also indicates a strong lead for Unita, though counting is very slow — and the website with the live results is frequently unavailable. This could be due to excessive traffic on their server due to public interest, or the result of a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack, a tactic often used against websites not in line with the government’s official position.
View from the ground
Our reporters followed the vote count in three different neighbourhoods in Luanda (Kilamba Kiaxi, Golfe and Talatona) and there were clear indications of Unita´s lead in all three.
Our reporters witnessed the results sheets being filled by electoral officials and signed by all party list delegates. However, it is difficult to confirm the allegations from opposition parties that the sheets were not posted outside the voting assemblies. We were told list delegates get copies of the report or take a picture of it and then send it to the party's headquarters for parallel verification of the election results.
The movement suggested by Unita, “vote and sit”, encouraging voters to stay around the electoral voting assemblies did not have a major impact, despite groups of people seen close to the assemblies trying to find out the outcome of the election results. The orderly manner in which the voting exercise took place probably explains this non-confrontational stance from voters. Police standing outside the polls seemed to have instructions to not act in a violent fashion. This was even the case when angry would-be voters tried to force their way into polling sites after 4:00pm, the time set from ballot boxes closure.
Despite early indications of a good showing by Unita in these elections, it is too early for the opposition party to claim it has won. To be able to do so, it will need to be able to present its count of the result sheets that should have been sent to head office by the party’s delegates at polling stations around the country.
There are multiple reports from across the country of voting station presidents refusing to affix their actas to the outside of the station, as mandated by law, with one source noting that these orders came directly from CNE, as reported by VOA.
Concerns were raised back in February at the appointment of Spanish information technology and defence systems company INDRA to handle the provisional count and the final tally of Angola’s general election. This company also handled the vote counts in the 2008, 2012 and 2017 general elections in Angola, all of which were marred by irregularities, according to opposition political parties. There is also controversy surrounding INDRA’s work in Venezuela up until 2015, with investigative journalists accusing them of manipulating the vote collection systems in favour of Hugo Chávez. They have also faced criticism following their refusal to divulge the source code of their vote-counting algorithms, with Transparency International giving them a C grade in their anti-corruption assessment back in 2020.
Expired IDs leave some disenfranchised
Zitamar saw voters turned away from polling stations after they presented expired ID cards, even with the receipt saying they are waiting for their replacement to be issued. Election administration body CNE left it until almost 2pm on Wednesday — with little more than two hours left to vote — to formally clarify that voters in that situation should be allowed to vote; too late for the message to make it through to all polling stations.