Mozambique since Independence

By | June 6, 2022

According to Homosociety, Mozambique became independent in 1975 – after a bloody war of liberation led by the Marxist-Leninist-inspired political movement FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), which, thanks to a broad popular consensus, won power and established a one-party regime – the Mozambique was troubled by a long and bloody civil war, which began in 1977 and ended only in 1992. Independent Mozambique was a country with a weak economy and largely destroyed by the war of independence against Portugal, almost devoid of technical personnel, with an illiteracy rate of about 95%, but above all surrounded by neighbors – Southern Rhodesia and South Africa – as powerful as they are hostile. In dealing with such a complex situation, FRELIMO oscillated between a dynamic pragmatism, which, especially in foreign policy, rescued him from subordination towards the Soviet Union, and an accentuated ideologism, which led him to impose without mediation on such a backward society a socialist economic-political model. The RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana), the anti-government military group founded in 1977 with the support of the racist regimes of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, despite the almost non-existent initial rooting and the brutality and atrocity of its actions, over the years it became the clot of all forms of discontent towards planning policy and the centralism of the ruling party.

The rigid application of an anti-ethnic and anti-tribal choice, together with the imposition of the socialist economic model, had aroused disorientation and misunderstanding, despite the enthusiasm and commitment of FRELIMO. The elimination of the role of traditional leaders, population movements, the establishment of production units, the obligation to stay in their villages and other measures generated a profound malaise in the country and provided RENAMO with the popular base it needed. The end of the civil war left an exhausted country: over a million dead, six or seven million expatriates and displaced persons, the destruction of a large part of the infrastructure, a land strewn with anti-personnel mines,

After uncertainties and postponements related to the slowness of the demobilization operations of RENAMO, the presidential and legislative elections were held from 27 to 29 October 1994 with sufficient regularity, under the supervision of UNOMOZ (United Nations Operation in Mozambique), and registered the participation of over 80 % of those entitled to vote. J. Chissano, FRELIMO, was confirmed President of the Republic with 53, 3 % of the vote, compared to 33, 7 % of Mozambique Dhlakama, leader of Renamo. FRELIMO established itself in the legislative elections as the first party with 44% of votes and 129 seats, against 112 for RENAMO and 9 for the Democratic Union (a coalition of smaller parties). Even in the presence of a certain regionalization of the vote (FRELIMO in the North and South, RENAMO in the center), the two major parties revealed neither an ethnic characterization nor a localistic dimension. The new administration sought above all to revive the fortunes of the economy, by compressing defense costs, by starting the privatization of numerous state-owned companies and by liberalizing the prices of numerous basic necessities. This last measure led to a sharp increase in the cost of living and was at the origin of a series of violent protests, which in the course of 1995 they mainly affected the city of Maputo.

The measures adopted by the government, despite the persistence of social tensions, led to a significant improvement in the main macroeconomic indicators of the country’s economy. On this basis, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) granted Mozambique in June 1996 a large three-year loan; the donor country coordinating commission authorized further credits in May 1997 and the IMF in June 1997 approved a new loan. On the other hand, the stabilization process of the political situation turned out to be more uncertain. The electoral outcome was accepted, albeit with marginal allegations of irregularities, by the opposition parties, which however welcomed with dissatisfaction the decision of FRELIMO to use its parliamentary majority to govern without their support, rejecting the hypothesis of a unity government national. This dissatisfaction was accentuated when the government, which was entrusted by the Constitution with the appointment of provincial governors, decided to appoint governors belonging to the majority party even in those regions where RENAMO was the first party in 1994. Also for this reason, when the government decided to postpone it to 1997 the administrative elections, already scheduled for 1996, the issue of the territorial organization of the state became a battleground between the political forces. In contrast to the opposition, the government argued that the elections could only take place in the part of the territory where the boundaries of the new municipalities had already been defined, thus limiting the consultation to just 42 % of the population. Held only in June 1998, after a further postponement and with very little participation in the vote, they were boycotted by the major opposition forces. They also contested the results of the presidential and legislative elections in December 1999, who confirmed Chissano to the presidency of the Republic and recorded the victory of FRELIMO (48.5% of the votes and 133 seats against 38.8% and 117 seats obtained by RENAMO).

On the international level, the end of the segregationist regime in South Africa and the election to the presidency of the Republic of that country of N. Mandela positively changed the relations between the two states, while the traditional good relations with Great Britain favored the admission del Mozambique in the Commonwealth.

Mozambique since Independence