The transition of Mozambique: from war to democracy
The history of Mozambique would not been shaped the way it is today without undergoing the disaster of conflicts and the suffering of the people. Such are the examples of the Mozambican Civil War and the Mozambican War of Independence, two conflicts that tore the country apart economically, politically, socially, and culturally. The bubble of de-colonization, pictured as a liberation from colonialism, erupted into civil disorder and chaos. In any event in history, there is an effect to a cause. In the case of Mozambique, no important historical events could have arrived closer to the significance of the two wars that determine the country’s status quo. In a country shackled by the chains of colonialism, the process of de-colonization and democracy has not been achieve without a huge cost. Like the many other African countries in the Cold War, the Mozambican Civil War of Independence and the later Mozambican Civil War were tests to the Mozambican spirit. The search for national unity pulled the Mozambican people through the journey of turbulence and roller-coaster geopolitical implications before finally settling in the home of democracy, a home built in the remnants of catastrophe.
To begin the story of the liberation struggle, the examination of the colonial roots of Mozambique provide an interesting outlook in the reasons for achieving national freedom. Circa 1498, Mozambique settled as a colonial territory under the auspices of Vasco de Gama. For five centuries, this country became a major slave trading country for Portugal. At Mozambican ports, men would be transported to ships sailing for the New World, where the men would be subjected under slavery. Gradually, the voice of the Mozambican people protested the colonial oppression that the Portuguese imposed. Soon, the wave of protests were also heard in other African, Asian, and Latin American countries. Colonialism was viewed as a crime to humanity. Globally, the concept of colonial rule became increasingly questioned and was losing its hold on the world. Sometimes this was as a result of protest from the colonized, and in other cases, due to a change in stance, and subsequent withdrawal, by the colonizer. As was the world norm, many countries in Africa gained independence in the early 1960s. However, the situation was much harder in southern Africa. Added to the “normal” complexities of power change and independence, countries in this part of Africa were faced with the reality.
The origins of war in Mozambique had roots in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, where white settlers held political power, had close economic ties with the Western nations and were considered to be the citadels of the worldwide anti-communist strategies pursued by the West. In Mozambique and Angola, for example, political demands by people under colonial rule were severely suppressed by Portugal, whose dictator Antonio Salazar insisted on the country’s colonies being considered as “overseas provinces”, and who was determined to defend and hold onto them to the last. Despite his anachronistic colonial policies and fascist character attracting international criticism, Salazar succeeded in forming a military alliance with the Western nations as early as 1949. This was thanks to his neutrality in the Second World War, his anti-communist stance and the geopolitical importance of the country’s colonies. In other words, despite having confirmed the principle of self-determination during the Second World War, Western nations such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom prioritized anti-communism over the liberation and democratization of colonies. This not only made it possible for white governments in southern Africa to continue to exist, but also made it doubly difficult for Africans in the region to gain liberation. Mozambicans faced yet another problem. They had to contend with the historically and culturally meaningless borders that were artificially created during the “scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century. They, therefore, had to fight for liberation simultaneously with endeavoring to form and unify a nation.
Due to the vastness of the territory, diverse ethnic and religious groups and oppression by the colonial authority, this was no mean feat. Yet, inspired by the independence of other African nations, people in Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique organized themselves and began armed struggle against Portugal’s colonial rule. It was the first large-scale armed liberation movement in Africa since the Algerian War of Independence in the late 1950s to early 1960s. It was also the first serious armed defiance of colonial authority in southern Africa. Resistance by Frente de Libertacao de Mocambique (FRELIMO), in particular, attracted public attention not only in Africa but also in the world. This was because: (1) it confronted Portuguese colonial rule, the “weakest link” among white powers in southern Africa; (2) it received full support from Tanganyika (later Tanzania), where the headquarters of the Liberation Committee of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was situated; and (3) the liberation of Mozambique made the armed struggle against white rule in neighboring Southern Rhodesia and South Africa geopolitically easier. Hence, the liberation struggle in Mozambique interested not only Africans who longed for total liberation from colonial rule. It also interested white rulers in southern Africa, who were afraid that their power might be taken away; the Soviet Union and China, which hoped to gain more allies; Western nations, who were afraid of communist expansion in the world; people in the Third World, who had experienced liberation struggles in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and some citizens in Western societies, especially socialists. As a result, numerous bodies representing various stances assisted the liberation struggle in Mozambique in a multitude of ways.
The defiance towards foreign rule erupted into conflict in Mozambique when Eduardo Mondlane, the leader of FRELIMO who established the party on June 25, 1962, launched attacks on Portuguese posts in Tanzania on September 25, 1964. The guerilla efforts of the FRELIMO group were aided by the clever tactics of evasion, ambushing, and sabotaging communication and railroad lines. Guerilla fighters also manipulated the mountaineous terrain of Mozambique to their own advantage by hiding away from open targets. Therefore, Portugal’s air superiority was limited to mere frustration, and the rainy moisty climate of the country stiffened the progress of Portuguese troops. Heavy rains made it difficult for the Portuguese to track down the insurgents. Soon, they suffered attrition as the number of FRELIMO attacks increased. As Portugal sought to increase the popularity of the colonial war, Mondlane expanded civilian interest in the guerillas. By 1967, 8,000 guerillas were in combat, further threatening the hopes of the opposition. To counter the growing defiant threat of the Mozambican voice, Portuguese officials expanded the infrastructure program of Mozambique. By 1970, roads, railways, canals, bridges, dams, and irrigation systems went under construction as the building projects attempted to boost the hopes of securing native subservience. The FRELIMO, undeterred by the clever ploys that their enemy used, attacked these construction sites. By 1974, the construction projects had caused adverse effects in Portuguese popularity, as many native citizens were expelled from their homes for construction projects.
On February 3, 1969, Eduardo Mondlane was assassinated by explosives smuggled into his office in Tanzania. The mail bomb exploded when he opened the letter and killed him instantly. People suspected that the Portuguese partook in the plan to counter the Mozambican “threat.” The immediate consequences of the assassination fueled a power struggle between Mondlane’s successors. Samora Machel, a fierce critic of the Portuguese regime, won the power struggle. As the war prolonged, Portuguese generals decided that the American strategy of hearts and minds, which was the strategy to encourage native enrollment in the opposing foreign army. General Francisco da Costa Gomes argued that African soldiers were better because they were cheaper and they create better relationships with the local populace. The hearts and minds strategy appealed to the generals because it appeared to facilitate the termination of the prolonged warfare. Prolonged warfare came at a cost for the Estado Novo regime—44 percent of the country’s budget was spent on military, absorbing 6 percent of the GDP. The military campaign swept a wave of unpopular protests in the Portuguese populace. The cost of the colonial wars in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Portugal induced domestic anger. For decades, the authoritarian Estado Novo regime rode the power of propaganda posters and ignored the problems of the civilians. While the people suffered, the bureaucratic and quasi-fascist elite maintained a rigid control over the state.
Despite the domestic discontent, the Portuguese launched a major counter-offensive in 1970 known as Gordian Knot Operation. Over the course of seven months, a massive number of Portuguese troops infiltrated the Mozambican and Tanzanian countryside and involved heavy aerial bombardments to take out the guerilla campaign. Progress stalled with the arrival of the monsoon season. A combination of poor coordination and effort hampered initial success. To some Portuguese officers, the operation was considered as a failure. On December 16, 1972, the Portuguese 6th command of Commandos in Mozambique wiped out the inhabitants of a village in the killing known as the “Wiriyamu Massacre.” Over 150 civilians were slaughtered, as ordered by the soldiers and military officers. By 1973, to incite sympathy in FRELIMO, FRELIMO soldiers created the slogan “Aldeamentos: agua para todos,” or resettlement villages: water for everyone. The slogan was created in response to the Portuguese attempt of isolation between civilians and FRELIMO bases. The short-term plan of resettlement was to improve infrastructure. The long-term plan, however, was to win the difficult war.
As previously stated, the fierce critic of the Portuguese regime, Samora Machel, highly opposed white settlement in Mozambican lands. These white settlers had lived in Mozambican lands for centuries due to colonial attractions, but with the possibility of a Mozambican victory comes the demise of continued white settlement. The moderate Mondlane used to allow the peaceful coexistence of whites and blacks, but the more radical Machel opposed such a plan. Meanwhile in Lisbon, the unsettling propaganda that the Portuguese government caused for the past thirteen years appeared to finally lose steam, as anti-war left wing parties crowded Portuguese politics with protests to end the war. Several magazines mocked the foreign intervention with satire. The growing unrest finally culminated in the peaceful, bloodless coup on April 25, 1974, known as the Carnation Revolution. As thousands of Portuguese citizens left Mozambique, many soldiers refused to continue fighting. Negotiations between the new Portuguese administration and Machel’s administration culminated in the Lusaka Accord signed on September 7, 1974. Formal independence was settled on June 25, 1975.
In 1975, the RELIMO political party was the most popular party in Mozambique. However, despite its domestic popularity Frelimo’s ascent to power in 1975 was not entirely unopposed. There were a number of smaller movements vying for power in the country, but none had had Frelimo’s the widespread and organised urban and rural support. On a regional level too, there was a strong degree of opposition from the white minority government of Southern Rhodesia, and the Apartheid regime in South Africa. As an ardent supporter of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU), and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Frelimo placed itself in the front line of attack from its two neighbours. One of its first acts in power was to close the borders to Southern Rhodesia, preventing them access to transport and trade routes. Resistanca Nacional de Mocambique (RENAMO) led by André Matsangaissa was a political movement which was created by Rhodesia and later then by the South African government to destroy guerrilla fighters from Zimbabwe and South Africa. Thus, the new government was violently opposed from 1977 by the Rhodesian government and South Africa backed RENAMO.
In general terms, a new resistance was founded to counter FRELIMO government and to disrupt logistical flow of weapons to Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army fighters in Mozambique boarder areas. The war had far reaching implications in Mozambique and her neighbors. The war was intense since RENAMO had the support of the South African government. The country was caught in between the Cold War in which RENAMO was supported by the Western governments whilst FRELIMO was supported by Soviet Union and other Communist states. There was heavy supply of arms to the two sides due to the power politics as a result of the Cold War. The war was intense in the 1980’s with increase in political tension, economic recession and lack of social services. A lot of civilians lost their lives, the economy collapsed and the lives of Mozambicans were totally changed for the worst. Given this background, the researchers were encouraged to undertake the research in order to establish the effects that the civil war had on ordinary civilians of Mozambique who suffered most from this brutal war, especially in rural areas, which was the main theater of war.
The most serious of these political groups, RENAMO, contributed to the most casualties of war. Until 1980 Renamo was in effect a sub division of the Rhodesian security forces, but fighting Frelimo. Matsangaissa’s death during a raid led to internal conflict and ruptures amongst Renamo’s leadership. Afonso Dhlakama eventually took the lead, but with the 1980 the Lancaster House Agreement that led to the emergence of the new Zimbabwean state, Renamo was thrown into further turmoil. The movement was “on the road to destruction” But during that period South Africa was beginning to take notice of Renamo’s presence. So instead of closing down Renamo’s activities, the Rhodesians passed the legacy on to their South African military counterparts. New training camps were set up in South Africa, and young Mozambican peasants some through coercion and threats, others voluntarily joined the movement. Once they had joined, they had little choice but to remain, for those caught trying to escape were executed immediately. The callow peasants experienced desperation and often were subjected to harassment. Acts of disobedience were considered traitorous to the ideals of these training camps. In the quest to gain control of Mozambique, RENAMO was ruthless in its intentions.
Contemporaneous with the regional developments, international events were also beginning to affect Mozambique. First, its vehement anti-apartheid stance, and second non-alignment. Aware of the pitfalls that foreign aid could bring to underdeveloped countries, at independence, Mozambique chose not to join the IMF, the World Bank, and the Lomé Convention. But in a world carved up by Cold War rivalry, non-alignment and neutrality were not easily tolerated. This independent stance threatened the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and proved unacceptable to the incoming Republican administration of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The US was not only vociferously hostile to the Marxist states of Angola and Mozambique, but also advocated ‘constructive engagement’ with South Africa. The South Africans, meanwhile, viewed the US’s willingness to engage in ‘constructive engagement’ while maintaining an openly hostile line towards its neighboring states, as a signal for the intensification of attacks on Mozambique. South Africa’s main objective was to maximize destabilization and inhibit development in the region. From 1981 they stepped up their commando attacks and raids into Mozambique, attacking both ANC members and Mozambicans. The American government did nothing to discourage these actions. With increased resources and training, Renamo’s presence throughout Mozambique increased. By 1981 up to 7,000 rebels were active, up from under a 1,000 during the Rhodesian-command days. Although Renamo’s primary source of support was South Africa, the group maintained its own independence and leadership.
The conflict gathered momentum between 1981 and 1984, as the apartheid regime in South Africa mounted its destabilization policy in the continent’s southern cone. Renamo’s operations spread from the central provinces down into the southern regions of the country. Major transport and communications arteries were targeted and destroyed. Agricultural production was disrupted as fields were mined, properties destroyed and peasants and rural populations driven into Maputo and other cities. Amidst this violence, the entire southern African region was also hit by the worst drought of the century. Combined with a rise in oil prices, a world economic recession, and a sudden hike in interest rates, Mozambique’s exports and the country’s ability to cope with the consequences of the drought were effected severely. The sustained violence and devastating famine forced the Mozambique Government (still a one party state under the control of Frelimo) to engage in negotiations. The first attempt to end hostilities came on 16 March 1984 when President Machel met Prime Minister Botha of South Africa at the border town of N’Komati to sign the “Agreement on Non-Aggression and Good-Neighborliness”. Mozambique was to close down the ANC military bases in its territory; in return, the South Africans were to halt their support of Renamo. South Africa reneged. With airlifts and transport routes through Malawi, it continued to supply Renamo with food, medication, and weapons, including large numbers of landmines. The Mozambican Government took a different approach by deciding to negotiate directly with Renamo.
However, aware of the critical role that South Africa played in its support for Renamo, the Mozambique government insisted that the talks be facilitated and mediated by the South African government. South Africa eventually complied and the regime offered its ‘good offices’ to bring about a negotiated solution to the conflict. Machel accepted, stating that his Government would give amnesty and assist in the full reintegration of all Renamo members who surrendered voluntarily. Three rounds of negotiations took place from May to October 1984. But the mediators were neither impartial, nor did they engage in thorough consultations with either side. An atmosphere of mistrust permeated the talks as statements were misinterpreted. Eventually failure was declared and both sides took on more extremist positions. Machel publicly stated that ‘Mozambique will not negotiate with kidnappers, bandits and criminals. Instead Mozambique will wipe them out, and that day is not far off.’ On the other side Renamo demanded the country’s presidency for itself.
The failure of the talks led to the further intensification of the conflict between 1985 and 1986. Neither President Machel’s accidental death in 1986, nor the ascension of the more moderate Joaquim Chissano into the presidency had much effect. By 1987, Renamo had gained substantial ground across the country and received indirect encouragement and backing from a number of conservative and right wing governments in the west. The war was taking a heavy toll on the government, forcing President Chissano to modify many of Frelimo’s original policies and positions via the international community. Meanwhile, Renamo’s reputation as the ‘Khmer Rouge’ of Africa had also spread. In 1988, following the publication of a US State Department report, attitudes towards the movement shifted radically. The Gersony Report, named after its author, Robert Gersony, stated that Renamo used excessive violence against the civilian population, including burying alive, beating to death, forced asphyxiation and drowning, and random shootings. Despite backing from a number of right-wing organizations in the US, Renamo’s hopes of US Government aid and assistance were eliminated. Moreover, its own ideological underpinnings and organizational structure were shown to be ambiguous and malformed. Domestic and regional pressure was also mounting on Renamo to enter into negotiations.
Although the conflict escalated throughout the mid-1980s, there were already sectors of society, notably religious leaders, and other regional actors attempting to create a peace process. As early as 1984, the Mozambican Christian Council, which united seventeen of the country’s Protestant churches, set up the ‘Peace and Reconciliation Commission’. They argued that ‘dialogue is the way forward in any dispute’, which was an approach that received official rebuff. During the same period, the country’s Catholic Church, which already had an ambivalent relationship with the Government (due to its historic ties with the Portuguese), publicly called for dialogue between the Government and Renamo. But at the time President Machel refused. By 1987, under the presidency of Chissano, the Church was finally permitted to openly recognize the parties to the conflict as well as the possibility of dialogue. Chissano also gave the MCC the go-ahead to conduct dialogue with Renamo, along very carefully defined guidelines. Between 1987 and 1988, the MCC joining forces with the Catholic Church, held a number of meetings with Renamo representatives in the US and in Kenya. President Moi also took an interest in the negotiations. By November 1988, the church activities had become public. The Peace and Reconciliation Commission continued with their efforts, meeting Renamo officials and outlining their objectives. Though aware of Renamo’s hostility towards the Government, the Commission became convinced of the group’s fatigue and willingness to end the conflict. In effect, some of the internal conditions necessary for initiating dialogue existed.
Externally too, the regional and international political arena was changing. In South Africa, the domestic political situation was witnessing changes and a gradual shift away from the principles of Apartheid. With anti-apartheid sentiments rising, international tolerance towards the ideology had decreased substantially, and South Africa was under both external and internal pressure to change. Internationally, the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism towards the end of 1989 and 1990 was the advent of a new era of optimism and willingness to engage in ending the proxy wars of the cold war years. Negotiations started in August 1989 but quickly faltered as it became evident that the groundwork was still lacking. The Government rejected Renamo’s demands for recognition as an active political force in Mozambique, and Renamo back-tracked on its original acceptance of the existing political order in the country. These talks reached an impasse. However, the process made the Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakhama, acutely aware that for Renamo to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the world, continued negotiations and the participation of the international community were essential. In the same year, the British businessman Tiny Rowland and the US Government also became involved, pushing for direct Government-Renamo talks, within a wider regional context. Rowland’s multinational corporation and Lonrho shared major business interests in Mozambique and throughout the region.
The first direct meetings between Renamo and Mozambican government officials finally took place at Sant Egidio’s headquarters in July 1990. But it was an inauspicious beginning as the two sides disagreed on the extent of third party participation and mediation, and the order of the agenda and events. It took a further round of talks before both sides agreed to recognize the team of observers (two Sant Egidio members, an Italian parliamentarian, and Bishop Goncalves) as the official mediation team. A third round of talks was first cancelled, and later re-instated following US support for the Rome process, and series of meetings between the mediation team and regional heads of state. Finally in December 1990, an agreement was reached on maintaining a partial cease-fire along major transport routes, and on providing humanitarian agencies access to the conflict zones. A joint Verification Mission (JVC) was also appointed, with Renamo nominating Kenya, Portugal, the US and Zambia, and the government asking Congo, France, the USSR, and the UK to be members. The next four rounds of talks, held over a one year period tackled issues of political and electoral reform. As the talks stalled and faltered on, accusations of a breach of ceasefire were made by both sides, and inevitably little humanitarian aid reached those in need. But the presence of the JVC and the signed agreement offered some reassurance to both parties.
Renamo sought support from the Portuguese government and the United Nations, but both refused to interfere in the Rome process. The indications were that all parties (regional and international) were supportive of, and recognized the Sant Egidio talks as the official negotiations. Any assistance given was aimed to supplement and enhance that process. In an effort to surmount a number of major obstacles, the mediators drew up a series of Protocols each tackling specific issues, and each demanding concessions from both parties. Once again with support from external observers, the two sides agreed to sign Protocol One. It indicated that the government was to tolerate and not hinder Renamo’s international contacts, while Renamo acknowledged its compliance with Mozambique government laws after the cease-fire. The two sides also agreed that a joint commission with UN participation, would supervise the implementation of the General Peace Accord. In essence it was a substantial breakthrough, establishing mutual political recognition. Shortly afterwards, Protocol Two on Criteria and Modalities for Forming and Recognizing Political Parties was signed. The critical issues incorporated were that the government had authority to register political parties, and that Renamo would be given provisions to begin activities as a political party once the peace agreement was signed. Protocol Three on electoral reform took more months of negotiation. But finally with American advice and encouragement, Renamo agreed to postpone discussions on constitutional reform and to sign the agreement.
By June 1992, all sides agreed to include the US and Portuguese governments formally into the peace process. But there was little progress being made on the question of military reform. As the negotiations process in Rome ambled on, a humanitarian crisis was mounting in Mozambique itself. Aid agencies and major donors applied pressure on both sides, but still no significant progress was made. Frustrated by the delays in Rome, in July a summit meeting between President Mugabe, President Masire of Botswana, Dhlakama, and the US Ambassador to Botswana was arranged by Tiny Rowland. The meeting gave a positive boost to the proceedings, and Dhlakama agreed to face-to-face talks with Chissano. In early August, at an ‘African’ summit in Rome, Chissano and Dhlakama, met in the presence of Mugabe and Rowland and agreed to a further meeting in October. But behind the scenes there were still numerous obstacles. Renamo feared for their security after the peace agreement was signed, and there were signs of dissent amongst the ranks of both sides.
In a series of smaller meetings with the mediators who were engaged in ‘shuttle diplomacy’ issues such as the size of army, reform of the police, and the future of secret service were discussed. However, the mediation team lacked the authority and means to enforce any agreements, so the UN was invited in. By October 1992, a number of the issues were finally resolved. Regional governments including South Africa were supportive, the UN was to send monitors and troops to uphold the agreement, and the Italian government agreed to donate US $10 million towards Renamo’s transformation into a political party. After two years, and with the involvement of regional and European governments, the United States, the UN, a major international corporation, not to mention Sant Egidio itself, the Rome General Peace Accord was signed. The peace agreement brought an end to the two-decade conflict that ravaged the country in terms of political, economic, social, and cultural implications. In the eyes of the civilians, the humanitarian catastrophe could not have destroyed the country at a worse price. Rape, famine, shootings, abortions, and droughts killed off millions of people. The District of Chokwe in Mozambique provided a graphic insight into the mad destruction that gave way to poverty.
In the District of Chokwe, there was the destruction of economic infrastructure, which resulted in a low level of production in the industries. This led to some companies closing down; many people lost their jobs. Consequently, the rate of unemployment in the District increased to about 80%. When economic activity grounded to a halt, there was destruction and looting of shops by RENAMO at Macarretane, Ndzindzine, and Munslow. In the same area, the bridge Guija-Chokwe, which was used to supply products to other districts like Caniçado and Chibuto, was destroyed. This meant that products could not find their way into the market freely. In Chokwe there was a thriving tourism industry before the war but the anarchy that prevailed in the area made the tourism industry to collapse. The industry needs a very peaceful environment to flourish but the atrocities of the war and the images that were coming out of the country in general prevented people from coming to tourist resorts in Chokwe. The images showed burnt bodies, mutilated bodies and those amputated by RENAMO; these generally discouraged people from coming as tourists, not only to Chokwe but to the whole country in general (Fernando Muianga, interview, 19 August, 2009). The collapse of the tourism industry reduced local revenue, which was needed for development after the war. The pervading insecurity also discouraged many investors from putting their money into the tourism and agriculture industry.
There was also lack of direct foreign investment flow into the region. This further worsened the economic problems of Chokwe and the District Government of Chokwe became bankrupt, to the point that it could not provide adequate services to the local residences of Chokwe. The people in Chokwe had a lot of livestock, which was their main source of wealth in the rural parts of the District. Those with livestock like goats were regarded as the richest in the area. The people lost their livestock to theft while they simply left others behind. The loss of cattle affected their socio-economic status. Chief Danita Andrade Tome of Chiguidela said that the loss of their cattle meant that the people lost hope of returning to their homes; and some have not returned up till now as they apparently have decided to start a new life somewhere else. Those people who went to town in Chokwe found life difficult since they suffered different forms of exploitation. The exploitation took the form of being paid very low wages or sometimes not being paid for their work. These people worked as housemaids, gardeners, guards, bar tenders and messengers. It should be noted that those who suffered exploitation were victims of their desperation to make a living since they had no other option than to move on with their lives. There was also child labor in which young boys and girls were used to work in the field for long periods of time without getting paid; their wages was sometimes only food.
The Matsanga killed civilians and threw them in wells. The water system was in a complete mess but people usually had no other drinking sources. They had to resort to drinking from unsafe sources such as the river, which in turn caused diseases like cholera and diarrhoea for the people. Coupled with this was the increased competition for the scarce resources which resulted into a great deal of pressure on the available resources. This caused an increase in the level of infrastructural destruction in the congested areas of Chokwe. The women and children suffered from the psychological trauma of being caught in between the war. These suffered from various forms of abuse; which includes sexual abuse by the barbarian RENAMO soldiers. Sexual abuse was common in areas where RENAMO forces were operating: rape was used by these forces to instill fear in the citizenry and to also foreground the government’s inability to protect its citizens. (Fernando Muianga, interview, 19 August 2009). The women and children also suffered physical abuse since they were beaten up or made to undergo degrading punishments in the hands of the RENAMO forces. The government forces also tortured some people, accusing them of being RENAMO forces. It is however found that most of those people were mere civilians who were made to suffer from both forces in the war.
The government’s main target soon after the war was reconstruction of infrastructure. The first thing the government did was to encourage people to go back to the rural areas by giving them assurances of their security. The government started by reconstructing roads, especially Macarretane to Massingir, which is important for supplying Chokwe District with fish; it is the same road which links Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park to Kruger National Park in South Africa (Paulo Tivane, interview, 08 August, 2009). This was important for attempting to revive the tourism industry of Chokwe and the country as whole. There was also the reconstruction of the road linking Chokwe to Macia, which is important for the supply of agricultural produce to Maputo, Xai – Xai and other areas. This encouraged many farmers to go back to their farms since there was a thriving market in Maputo. The reconstruction of roads paved the way for development since the roads opened the way for trade and commerce, which had been disturbed by the civil war. The government, with the cooperation of Non-Governmental Organizations helped in improving the health sector and education in Chokwe. In Macarretane, they helped in the building of a secondary school of the same name which reduced the distance and cost of traveling to get educated. This led to an increase in the number of students attending secondary schools, thereby reducing illiteracy rate.
There was also the construction of other schools in other parts of Chokwe such as Hokwe, which also accrued the number of students attending schools, while in Nwachicoluane, the government also converted a destroyed Agrarian Institute into the ADPP Center for Formation of Teachers (Jorge Novela, interview, 10 August 2009). In the center of the district the government constructed three secondary schools as a way of trying to address the demand for increased number of students from primary schools. In tertiary education, there was the creation of two universities in Chokwe, namely the Polytechnic Superior Institute of Gaza for Agriculture in 2006, as a way of improving knowledge in agriculture; this encouraged cooperation with commercial farmers to the point that students are usually attached to Chokwe farms (Interview with Alberto Massingue, 10 August, 2009). These students also produce seeds in green houses and sell their hybrid seeds to commercial farmers. The government created the Superior School of Management and Economics in 2007 to respond to demands of workers in public and private sectors of the economy.
In the health sector, government built many hospitals in the rural areas. The construction of hospitals was a response to the people’s demands for an improved health delivery system which had collapsed during the civil war. People were in need of clinics and hospitals since many had been amputated, some had severe wounds from beatings and burns which they suffered from the civil war. There was also a general health scare since in the urban areas poor sanitation still persisted and cholera and diarrhea were common (Luis Braz, interview, 19 August, 2009). The government also equipped hospitals with medicine with the help of massive donor funds from both the East and West. This massive aid came as a result of Joaquim Chisasno’s new liberal approach, which was popular with the west. The congestion of the population in Chokwe urban center encouraged social problems like prostitution, which some women engaged in order to get money to sustain themselves; this in turn caused diseases such as Tuberculosis, Sexual Transmitted Diseases, and HIV/AIDS. Rape was common in the areas that FRELIMO and RENAMO controlled, and it increased the risk of people contracting STDs (Fernando Muianga, interview, 19 August, 2009). The health sector needed to cater for all these problems in order to ensure that the people moved forward rather than backwards in the development of the country. For a country to develop, the people or its human resources must be in good health for it to work towards realizing its goals.
The governments’ efforts at development was greatly hindered by the corrupt practices of some of the government officials: those given the mandate to formulate development projects were the ones abusing the funds. The money meant for irrigation and other development infrastructure was often diverted for personal use. Lack of effective monitoring mechanisms in the system meant that it was difficult to police the local government agents, especially District Administrators, who happen to be the link between the government and the people. Corruption meant that some of the projects planned for were not fully implemented or became costlier to implement (Salomão Macuacua, interview, 02 August 2009). The women who provided a lot of assistance during the war looked forward to an end to the discrimination against them in the society, especially in the home. However, women are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to the struggle for ownership of land as compared to their male counterparts. Most women in Mozambique depend principally on subsistence agriculture, and thus on access to land, to ensure their livelihood. Nonetheless, they are denied ownership of land (Hermele 1997:24).
The policies of government to encourage development have not helped women that much as they still do not have rights to land in the irrigation scheme in Chokwe. The women whose husbands died in the war have no access to land and are obliged to live on the small plots of land that sympathetic relatives or councils had allowed them to occupy. Although the land law of 1997 affirms the constitutional idea that women and men have equal rights to occupy and use land, the enforcement of this law has proved to be a problem, especially in the male dominated communities of rural Chokwe. With no other means of survival, many of the women depend on subsistence agriculture to survive in the village. In the final, the government should ensure that money meant for development from donors goes to the intended beneficiaries. The government should put in place committees in the villages that promote development and see to it that the money has been spent for the required purposes working closely with local government authorities. There is a need to set up information centers in the villages of Chokwe in order to gather information on the needs and aspirations of the people in the district with regards to development. It is important to note that many times government authorities are unaware of the problems people are encountering in their towns or districts. The government in turn will be pre-occupied with national issues which include trade and defense and not target specific areas which are in need of attention. The District Administrator need to be regularly informed by lower agents for development in the area.
In conclusion, the deprivation of the human needs and the corruption that stemmed from the split of national parties in the wake of de-colonization drove the spirit of a country to near death. The millions of deaths and serious famines attributed to political violence caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Africa. Mozambique was not the only country to be challenged by these ordeals. Support for third-world countries in Africa remained nonchalant and lukewarm due to the high levels of poverty and the conventional idea of condoning African violence. Many Western nations failed to take heed to the catastrophe that unfolded before their eyes, such as the Chokwe crisis. Thanks to NGOs, Mozambique was able to recover slightly from the tragedy of war, but the deaths ballooned to epic proportions as the war dragged on. Coupled with the liberation war, war in Mozambique lasted for a total 28 years, a span of almost three decades. With democracy still a novel idea in Mozambique, the response to strengthen the national economy and maintain global standards brought unpredictable waves of change. Old wounds between FRELIMO and RENAMO reopened in 2013 due to the dispute in local governmental elections. The price of democracy comes at a cost, and in the rivalry between FRELIMO and RENAMO, the agenda to rule a country based on the ideology clashes with the bureaucratic, elitist rule of many African nations. Eastern Bloc and NATO countries have shaped the Mozambican mentality greatly. Nevertheless, through the arduous process of peaceful talks and through the changing political landscape of the world, Mozambique was able to finally settle into peace. The scar of war would never leave the Mozambican spirit, but in a future that saw new beginnings, peace was a grateful relief for the national population. With adversity came hope, and with failure came success. There is a price and reward to everything.
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