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Profiles

Main antagonists

Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo)

Founded in 1962, from an alliance of three regionally based anti-colonial movements, Frelimo came to power in 1974-75 following a ten-year liberation war against the Portuguese. Through its early years, the movement suffered infighting over a complex mix of ethnic, ideological and political issues, but came to be dominated by a southern, urban-based elite with a strong, non-racial, nationalist ideology. After the assassination of its first President, Eduardo Mondlane, in 1969, Samora Machel took over. Frelimo converted from a broad-based ‘front’ to a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party in 1977 and adopted ambitious economic and social programmes. In later years, its centralist tendencies and inability to effectively implement development policies due to the war with Renamo weakened Frelimo’s credibility with many Mozambicans. In 1986, Machel died in a plane crash and was replaced by long-serving foreign minister, Joaquim Chissano. Three years later, the party dropped its Marxist-Leninist designation and, in 1990, engineered a liberal constitution allowing for a multiparty political system. That same year, negotiations commenced with Renamo which led to the 1992 General Peace Agreement. Frelimo won 52 per cent of national assembly seats in the parliamentary elections of 1994, dominating in Maputo, the south and their original heartland in the north-east. The party maintained power, though with a substantial Renamo opposition.

Mozambique Armed Forces (FAM)

FAM Troops

FAM Troops on the march after destroying a Renamo base in Gaza Province, July 1992

Credit Alfredo Mueche/AIM

FAM (originally FPLM) was the armed wing of the Frelimo party through the 1970s and 1980s. The FAM was a conscription-based army, relying occasionally on forced recruitment, which during the 1980s comprised as many as 80,000 soldiers and regularly accounted for over 40 per cent of public expenditure. While the FAM was generally committed to the leadership of the party, the army was often disorganized, corrupt and was also implicated in human rights abuses. While certain units were well-trained and effective, the FAM depended greatly on support from Zimbabwean and Tanzanian soldiers during the second half of the 1980s to regain its military superiority over Renamo. Major FAM offensives occurred in east-central Mozambique in 1980 and 1985 and in the north-central provinces centring on Zambézia in 1987-89. Following the peace agreement, over 70,000 FAM soldiers were demobilised and its authority, equipment, infrastructure and remaining personnel were integrated with Renamo’s to form the new national army — the Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique (FADM).



Mozambique National Resistance (MNR, later Renamo)

Afonso Dhlakama

Renamo was formed in 1976 by the Rhodesian government to fight and to collect intelligence on Zimbabwean nationalist guerrillas operating from Mozambique. With Zimbabwean independence in 1980, Renamo was taken over by South Africa and used to destabilize Mozambique. Internally, Renamo has been dominated by Ndau speakers from the east-central provinces and included Frelimo dissidents, as well as soldiers who had fought with the Portuguese during the colonial war. Following the death of its first leader, André Matsangaissa in 1979, Afonso Dhlakama (left) took over. At its military peak from the mid to late 1980s, Renamo claimed well over 20,000 combatants and was operational country-wide. Its major offensives followed the expulsion of personnel from South Africa and Malawi in 1984 and 1987. A

Renamo child soldiers

Renamo child soldiers in central Mozambique pose for a photograph taken by their hostage William Blakely in 1985

common Renamo tactic was to destroy and disrupt socio-economic infrastructure to highlight and exacerbate the government’s failure to protect and provide for its citizens. When support from South Africa began to wane in the mid-1980s, Renamo resorted to more violent tactics targeted at civilians in order to sustain its formidable reputation and resource its activities. In some areas, the movement was militarily well organized and equipped. In others, it was poorly provisioned and thoroughly ill-disciplined. Renamo’s leadership generally lacked a coherent political ideology. Its support base is mostly among the rural poor and, in the 1994 elections, it won a majority of parliamentary seats in five northern and central provinces. Over 20,000 Renamo combatants were demobilised in 1993-94 and an additional 4,000 were integrated into the FADM. Although severely in debt and politically inexperienced, fresh leadership, a presence in Maputo and continued support in the provinces suggest Renamo has some future in Mozambican politics.

Rhodesia

The Central Intelligence organization (CIO) of the minority Rhodesian government formed the MNR in 1976 to counter the growing threat posed by Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla) guerrillas operating out of Mozambique. In 1980, following the Lancaster House agreements which brought majority rule to Rhodesia, the CIO transferred control of the MNR/Renamo to the South African military establishment.

South Africa

?Pik? Botha

The South African military was directly involved with Renamo in operations to undermine the Frelimo government as early as 1978. This action intensified in the early 1980s when South Africa took control over Renamo, revitalising the movement and directing it in support of its own objectives of regional destabilization. In 1984, the South African authorities signed the Nkomati accord with the Mozambican government and mediated direct talks between leading representatives of Frelimo and Renamo. These talks quickly collapsed, however, and it soon transpired that the South Africans had reneged on Nkomati, continuing to support the rebels covertly. From 1988, and especially after the accession of President F.W. de Klerk in 1989, relations warmed between the two governments, leading to agreements on common military and economic interests. As the shift to majority rule gained pace, Foreign Minister ‘Pik’ Botha (right) became closely identified with ‘Tiny’ Rowland’s initiatives to support the peace process. Immediately prior to the 1994 Mozambican elections, South Africa’s newly inaugurated president, Nelson Mandela, is believed to have played a key role in persuading Renamo to reverse an eve-of-poll boycott declaration.

Zimbabwe

Following the accession to power of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1980, Zimbabwe became Mozambique’s closest ally in its war against Renamo and its backers. With its economy dependent on access to the sea through Mozambique, Zimbabwe had committed upwards of 20,000 troops by the mid-1980s to contain Renamo and to protect transportation infrastructure in the so-called ‘Beira corridor’. When it no longer looked as if a military solution to the war was viable, the Zimbabwean government increased communication with Renamo and President Robert Mugabe became involved at different times in facilitating and mediating talks between the Mozambican government and the rebels. In the latter stages of negotiations and prior to elections, Mugabe’s personal pledges of security and support were essential to retaining the engagement of the Renamo leadership. The last Zimbabwean troops were withdrawn from Mozambique in 1993.

Intervening states

Botswana

As one of the anti-apartheid Front Line States, Botswana provided political support for peace initiatives in Mozambique throughout the 1980s. In the latter stages of the Rome peace process in July and September 1992, two crucial summits were held in its capital, Gaborone, facilitated by ‘Tiny’ Rowland of Lonrho and President Masire, which led to a breakthrough on sensitive political issues.

France

France provided the Mozambican government with military aid during the 1980s. Representatives of the French government were invited in mid-1992 to be observers for the remainder of the Rome talks and, two years later, to be part of the international commissions monitoring implementation of the General Peace Agreement. Following the formation of the new army, France has also provided substantial military training.

Germany

The former East Germany provided assistance to Frelimo during its struggle against the colonial government and in the period following Mozambican independence, particularly in the establishment of the National Service for Public Security (SNASP). In West Germany, in later years, Renamo enjoyed support from individuals in academic and right-wing political circles and from elements of the state intelligence service. A Renamo office was established in Heidelberg in 1983 which retained South African-financed communications links with Renamo bases in the northern Transvaal right up to 1989. Heidelberg was also the site of a Renamo congress in late 1988 at which Dhlakama sought to bring the rebels’ fractious external wing into line with his leadership. The unified German state also had representation on the Supervisory and Monitoring Commission overseeing implementation of the General Peace Agreement.

Italy

The Italian government backed the efforts of the Sant’ Egidio lay community to mediate between the Frelimo government and Renamo. In March 1990, Italian foreign ministry officials met Dhlakama in Rome and pledged to host and meet the costs of any peace talks held in Italy. Mario Rafaelli, a northern socialist parliamentarian with long-standing links with Frelimo, represented the government, first as an observer, and later as an official mediator. With the assistance of observers from Portugal, the US and the UK, the Italian military drew up original drafts of the military and ceasefire protocols of the General Peace Agreement. Italy’s most significant contribution to the peace process, however, was a contribution of around US $35 million from 1990-94 to help finance Renamo’s continuing commitment to the peace process and its transformation into a political party. The Italians were also instrumental in the establishment, in 1993, of a UN trust fund for similar ends.

Kenya

Kenya has long hosted Mozambican dissidents and was the site of a Renamo office from 1984, after which it also provided travel documents to Renamo officials. Though the exact nature of its support for Renamo remains unclear, it has been suggested that, towards the end of the war, Kenya provided significant military training and chanelled arms to the rebels. From 1988, a delegation of Mozambican churchmen was received several times in Nairobi and offered assistance for meetings with Renamo representatives. The ‘Nairobi talks’ commenced in early 1989 and continued, with President Moi as a mediator, until their collapse in August. Through this period, foreign ministry official Bethuel Abdu Kiplagat established a close rapport with Dhlakama and was party to ‘Tiny’ Rowland’s attempts to facilitate direct dialogue between Renamo and the Mozambican government. In December 1989, President Moi co-authored a proposal which increased the momentum for talks, but Nairobi was rejected as a venue in favour of Rome. Kenyan influence waned significantly in the latter stages of the Rome talks despite Renamo attempts to win for Moi a mediating role.

Malawi

Strategically defending its perceived political and economic interests, Malawi under President Banda maintained cordial relations with both Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. As such, it was an important base for anti-Frelimo forces in the 1970s. Malawi also provided bases for Renamo in the early 1980s and later channelled assistance to the rebels from various evangelical mission societies based in South Africa and the West. recognizing the costs borne by his country as a result of the war, and under great pressure from the Front Line States, Banda finally expelled Renamo from Malawian soil in 1986. After this time, Malawian officials continued to negotiate with the rebels to secure export routes across Mozambique, although troops were also deployed for this purpose between 1987 and 1993. Malawi hosted many discussions aimed at establishing direct talks between Renamo and the Mozambique government and, later, to free log-jams in the Rome negotiations. At the height of the war, Malawi hosted up to one million Mozambican refugees.

Portugal

As the ex-colonial power in Mozambique, Portugal became a key base for groups opposed to the Frelimo government, and Renamo has maintained an office in Lisbon since its foundation. Mindful of their economic interests in Mozambique, the Portuguese government and business community also maintained communication channels with the rebels, as well as negotiating with the South African and Mozambican governments to protect their investments. After promoting its case with Lonrho and Renamo, Portugal was rejected as the site for direct peace talks in 1990. The government continued to press for a central role in the process, however, sometimes to the annoyance of the Italians. In mid-1992, Portugal was appointed an official observer at the Rome talks. Since then, it has played a role in monitoring implementation of the peace agreement and has provided military training for the FADM.

Tanzania

Frelimo has long enjoyed loyal support from the Tanzanian government. During the liberation war, party headquarters were in Dar-es-Salaam, and many of its military operations were launched from Tanzanian rear bases. From 1985, the Mozambican army was provided with training facilities on Tanzanian soil. Between 1983-88, Tanzania committed as many as 7,000 troops to Mozambique to protect its own borders from Renamo incursions and bolster the military operations of its ally. Tanzania also hosted some 60,000 Mozambican refugees during the war.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

From 1976, the Frelimo government signed several trade and cooperation treaties with the Soviet Union. Despite the warming of relations with the West in the mid-1980s, Mozambique continued to receive substantial levels of Soviet military, economic and humanitarian assistance as late as 1989. By this time, it was estimated that Mozambique’s debt to the USSR totalled in the region of US $2.4 billion. In the final months before its collapse, the Soviet Union was invited by the government to join the Joint Verification Committee (JVC) monitoring the partial ceasefire of December 1990.

United Kingdom

Due to the supportive role it played in the Lancaster House negotiations leading to Zimbabwean independence, Mozambique enjoyed surprisingly cordial relations with the UK government in the 1980s. Partly to deflect criticism of its refusal to impose sanctions against apartheid South Africa, the UK despatched significant levels of aid and military assistance to Mozambique, particularly between 1984-87. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is also believed to have played a role dissuading the Reagan administration in the US from supporting Renamo. At the request of the Mozambique government, the UK was afforded formal observer status in the final stages of the Rome peace talks. It has since provided development assistance to Mozambique as well as military training for the FADM.

United States

Despite a powerful pro-Renamo lobby in Washington, the US government sought to coax rather than force Mozambique from its ‘Marxist’ inclinations. From the early 1980s, it provided substantial humanitarian aid and some military assistance to the Mozambican government. The US sought to play a central role in the peace process in Mozambique, pressuring President Machel to sign the Nkomati accord in 1984, and later providing background technical support as well as political pressure during the Rome talks. The US played a key role in devising the military sections of the GPA and was appointed an official observer of the Rome talks in mid-1992.

Zambia

From 1987, Zambia suffered regular incursions from Renamo units which harassed and terrorised civilians to obtain provisions. In response, the Zambian authorities launched counter-raids against the rebels and, in 1989, reached a joint security agreement with Mozambique. In late 1990, President Kaunda held talks, facilitated by ‘Tiny’ Rowland, with Renamo’s Dhlakama and received his preconditions for face-to-face talks with President Chissano. In early 1991, Kaunda failed in his attempts to persuade Chissano to meet these conditions.

Non-Governmental Institutions (National)

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church represents the largest supra-ethnic organisation in Mozambican civil society. Though present in the country since the 1600s, it only established dioceses in Mozambique in 1940. The first African bishops were appointed in 1974 and today, there are around two million Mozambican Catholics. Relative to other Christian denominations, the Catholic Church is weakest in Maputo and the south. Tarnished by its colonial ‘civilising’ mission and often conservative, it experienced significant adversity in its relations with the state between 1975 and 1982, despite the fact that many priests had supported independence. Following a warming of relations with the government, Church leaders began to make public calls for a negotiated end to the war as early as 1983. By 1988, they were facilitating contacts between the government and Renamo. Having gained the confidence of rebel leaders through personal visits to their headquarters, the Catholic Archbishop of Beira, Jaime Goncalves, played a key role in this and was later appointed an official observer, then mediator, at the Rome talks. Since the signing of the Rome accord, the Church has supported community initiatives for reconstruction and reconciliation in Mozambique.

Mozambican Christian Council (CCM)

The CCM was founded in 1948 to promote unity and co-operation among Mozambican churches. Representing Anglican, Baptist, Reformed, Methodist and independent church traditions, the CCM became involved in calls for dialogue between the warring parties from 1984 when it established a Peace and Reconciliation Commission. Capitalising on relatively cordial links with the government, the council gained approval for its overtures to Renamo. It was a leading force behind the Nairobi talks which provided the first significant interaction between Frelimo and Renamo representatives. In 1990-92, the CCM persistently drew attention to the slow progress of the Rome process, pressed for an immediate ceasefire and for direct dialogue between President Chissano and Afonso Dhlakama. Churches affiliated with the CCM played a key role in brokering local ceasefires as well as defusing community tensions and promoting grassroots development in the post-war era.

Naparama Movement

The Naparama — meaning ‘irresistable force’ — was a community defence movement which came to prominence in Zambézia province around 1990. Drawing inspiration from Manuel Antonio, a 28 year-old spiritual healer, it successfully freed many captives from Renamo bush camps and established several ‘neutral zones’ before the war was formally ended. The Naparama and similar movements relied on magic potions and other forms of ‘spiritual protection’ to render themselves ‘invincible’. The spiritual power of the Naparama instilled fear in many Renamo fighters, causing them to flee or lay down their arms, often without violence.

Non-Governmental Institutions (International)

All Africa Council of Churches (AACC) / World Council of Churches (WCC)

The WCC and AACC supported the early attempts of Mozambican churchmen to establish links with Renamo representatives in the US and Kenya. Collaborating with the CCM, the Nairobi Peace Initiative and others, the ecumenical bodies continue to analyse and draw lessons from the experiences of Mozambique, providing information and counsel through their wide range of international partners.

African National Congress (ANC)

The ANC, the South African liberation movement, held military bases in Mozambique until the signing of the 1984 Nkomati accord between the Mozambican and South African governments. With its legalisation in 1990, and the release from prison of its leader, Nelson Mandela, the ANC increased its pressure on the South African government to halt its backing for Renamo. This pressure was key in consolidating South African support for the Mozambican peace process.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC frequently clashed with the Mozambican government during the 1980s over access to Renamo-held areas. In December 1990, the committee secured permission from the government and Renamo to operate freely throughout the country. Because this agreement was only fitfully respected, the ICRC was instrumental in securing a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Humanitarian Operations, signed in July 1992 as part of the General Peace Agreement. Unhindered access to many areas remained problematic, however, long after the peace agreement was signed. While the role of the ICRC and other international NGOs was key in alleviating hunger in Mozambique, their aid was routinely manipulated for non-humanitarian ends by both sides in the war.

Lonrho

?Tiny? Rowland

The UK-based multinational corporation, Lonrho, struck secret deals with Renamo as early as 1982 to protect the Beira oil pipeline and its other commercial interests in Mozambique. Starting with the ill-fated Nkomati accord of 1984, chief executive ‘Tiny’ Rowland (right) played a significant role in the peace process, using his private jet to shuttle mediators and representatives of the warring parties between African capitals. His personal efforts to engineer dialogue between the government and Renamo were key in accelerating the peace process and in making possible the 1992 settlement. The most significant Lonrho contribution to peace, however, was probably the millions of dollars channelled to Renamo’s leaders to buy their compliance with the terms of the GPA.

Sant’ Egidio Community

President Chissano

President Chissano addresses the World Peace Forum, sponsored by Sant' Egidio in Malta, October 1991 Credit: Antonia Muchave/AIM

Founded in the late 1960s to express the social concerns of Catholic students, the Rome-based Sant’ Egidio community has links with Mozambique dating from the 1970s. In 1982-83, it hosted a range of informal discussions hastening improved relations between the Frelimo government and the Catholic Church. Sant’ Egidio was also involved in negotiations for the release of missionaries kidnapped by Renamo in 1985 and in the arrangements surrounding the Pope’s 1988 visit to Mozambique. In 1990, the community offered to host direct talks between the Mozambican government and Renamo. Due to its strong links with leftist Italian politicians, the Italian government and Catholic churchmen trusted by Renamo, its offer was accepted. Sant’ Egidio went on to host all 12 rounds of the Rome talks, with two of its senior members acting first as observers and then as official mediators. Many were critical of Sant’ Egidio’s rigorously non-judgmental approach and the long-standing failure of its talks to bring about a credible ceasefire. In the final analysis, however, the community provided a genuinely ‘neutral’ environment which was essential for the parties to settle some significant differences and to reach a political accommodation.

 

 

The Vatican

Relations between the Vatican and the Frelimo government were strained in the late 1970s after the nationalization of church property, the expulsion of missionaries and the persistent harassment of churchmen in Mozambique. Rapprochement came in 1982-83 and conciliatory talks were held in Rome between President Machel and Pope John Paul II. By 1988, most church property had been reinstated and the Pope made a highly successful visit to Mozambique, strengthening the momentum for dialogue and reconciliation between the government and Renamo. In late 1991, the president of Renamo was received at the Vatican. An audience with the Pope was deferred, however, until after the signing of the General Peace Agreement, when the pontiff hosted a symbolic reconciliation function for all prominent figures in the Rome talks.

Inter-governmental organizations

The Supervisory and Monitoring Commission (CSC)

Headed by UN Special Representative Aldo Ajello and comprising representatives of the Mozambican government, Renamo, Portugal, Italy, France, the UK, the US and the organization of African Unity (OAU), the CSC was established at the end of 1992. It was the highest of a series of commissions set up to monitor the ceasefire, establish the new armed forces, reintegrate demobilised soldiers into Mozambican society and verify the withdrawal from Mozambique of all foreign troops. Responsible for managing the delicate politics of implementing the Rome accords, the CSC twice set back demobilisation and election schedules.

International Monetary Fund / World Bank

Desperate to draw foreign investment and to attract funds to relaunch its economy, Mozambique joined both the IMF and the World Bank in 1984. It received its first World Bank loan in 1985 and, two years later, launched an IMF economic recovery programme involving devaluation of the Mozambican metical, extensive privatization, and counter-inflationary measures. In 1989, some US $820 million were received for economic rehabilitation as part of a ‘structural adjustment’ package agreed with both the bank and the fund. While the Mozambican economy is dependent on such support, deflationary policies, implemented at a time of protracted economic crisis, have had huge social costs and have angered many Mozambicans, outside commentators and other donors.

Joint Verification Commission (JVC)

The JVC was set up in December 1990 to monitor a partial ceasefire between the government and Renamo covering the key transport routes across Mozambique. Of the eight countries serving on the commission, Renamo selected Kenya, Portugal, the US and Zambia, while the government chose Congo, France, the UK and the USSR. The JVC attributed the majority of subsequent violations to Renamo, but came under fire from the rebels for a perceived lack of neutrality.

United Nations

UN Special Representative Aldo Ajello

The United Nations became formally involved in the Rome talks in 1992 when Renamo requested its participation as an observer. It was instrumental in the elaboration of the technical documents relating to the General Peace Agreement and, through ONUMOZ (United Nations Operation in Mozambique), played a key role in its implementation. ONUMOZ was established on 16 December 1992 by the United Nations Security Council with a mandate to verify and monitor the implementation of the General Peace Agreement and to organize elections. Headed by UN Special Representative Aldo Ajello (right), a former Italian parliamentarian and UN Development Programme (UNDP) official, ONUMOZ was a multi-faceted operation involving peacekeeping, the demobilisation of government and rebel armies, the provision of humanitarian relief, electoral support and the return of millions of refugees. Originally envisaged as a one-year operation, the mandate of ONUMOZ was twice renewed due to logistical, political and other problems which required extensive negotiation between Renamo, the government and the Supervisory and Monitoring Commission (CSC). At its height, ONUMOZ employed more than 6,000 civilian and military personnel. Its last remaining military officers left Mozambique in March 1995.

 

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