Mozambique Recent History

Mozambique has long been one of the major bulwarks of Portuguese rule in Africa. The Portuguese were in the colony for over three centuries and in 1508 they built a fortress which is still used as a penitentiary.

The military occupation of Mossuril, in the bay of the same name, was completed in 1913. The population, in spite of the scarce truth, has always proposed for the development of agriculture producing not only for its own needs but also for the export of corn, sesame, cassava, peanuts and tropical fruits. Fish drying was also very popular.

In 1935 Mozambique was declared an integral part of Portugal and in 1955 it was officially called “Portuguese Overseas Province”, thus acquiring the right to the election in the National Assembly of Lisbon of three deputies.

According to Abbreviationfinder, the highest authority in Mozambique was the Governor General, controlled by the Ministry responsible for overseas, especially for financial matters and with the power to legislate on all other matters. A Legislative Council with 16 elected and 8 appointed members was also elected, while the Governing Council maintained advisory functions only.

In 1961 Mozambican inhabitants were granted equal rights with the Portuguese, provided they had a good knowledge of the language.

In June 1962, after some sporadic protests, the “Mozambique Front for Freedom” was established, led by E. Mondlane, and in September 1964 the first real popular rebellions began, especially in the north of the country, on the border with Tanzania, where the bases of the rioters had been laid.

In 1969 Mondlane was assassinated and then there was a crisis in the Front, from which he barely managed to pull himself out, under the guidance of Samora Machel and M. dos Santos.

At the end of 1972, some massacres were committed by the Portuguese in response to the rebellions. And when there was a revolution in Portugal on April 25, 1974, General A. de Spinola, who rose to power, decreed that the overseas territories had the right to independence and in fact, exactly one year later, Mozambique became independent.

Mozambique Recent History

During the preparation and handover phase, there were many serious accidents between the white minority and the natives and many settlers moved to Rhodesia and South Africa. Portugal, however, continued to help Mozambique financially until the budget deficit was extinguished, while Machel, who became president of the new state, declared that the country would have a single party and that the capital, hitherto called Lorenço Marques, instead it would be called Maputo.

The government was of a Marxist tendency, an ideology reaffirmed by the Front in February 1977 and a plan was prepared for the control of production and to start collectivization and the formation of cooperatives. All the privileges were thus directed to the countryside.

The government also had to deal with the problem of cadres, both technical and administrative, which remained incomplete after the Portuguese left.

In the foreign field, Mozambique’s dependence on South Africa and Rhodesia was made even more evident by the considerable use of workers, especially in the mines of the two countries and by the sale of the energy produced in Cabora Bassa. The Soviet Union had already obtained a base on the Mozambican coast in 1976 and in 1977 an agreement was signed with the United States with the commitment of the latter to supply wheat, rice and other food products, necessary especially for the numerous black Rhodesian refugees in the country. Also in the same year the III Congress of the Front was called, which officially proclaimed itself a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party. But meanwhile another party was born, the “Resistencia Nacional Moçambicana”, supported by South Africa, which was to destabilize the Maputo government.

The result was a guerrilla war which, together with the famine of 1980, extended to the whole of southern Africa, brought serious damage to the country. Machel, in light of all the adverse events, in 1983 convened the IV Congress of the Front and on that occasion he tried to moderate the principles of his Marxist orthodoxy, easing the collectivization and giving more incentives to individual farmers. Then at the end of that year he made a long journey through the western countries to solicit financial aid and investments in his country, also by virtue of the new more moderate political ideology.

In 1984 Mozambique joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Then he came to terms with the racist state of South Africa with an economic cooperation agreement signed in Nkomati. But the Resistencia Nacional continued the armed struggle and Machel was forced to seek military aid from Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

On 19 October 1986 the plane in which Machel and some of his close collaborators were located crashed in South African territory, returning from Zambia, where they had gone for a consultation with other countries of equal politics. The cause: a pilot error, but it was never accepted. An attack was thought of.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, J. Chissano, was appointed to the presidency of the Front and that of the republic. He was a man of great political talent, balance and wide international experience. He placed some senior government employees in positions of prestige, but without power, and streamlined the whole bureaucracy by inserting young and capable leaders.

He then relaxed his socialist plans to try in every way to increase the country’s production and wealth. One thing did not change, the armed struggle waged by the nationalists who carried out their attacks especially from the bases of South Africa, so much so that Chissano had to call that state to respect the Nkomati agreement.

In September, South African President Botha visited Mozambique to settle disputes between the two countries. In 1989 Chissano also authorized the Church to intervene in the Resistance and negotiations were carried out also with the mediation of Kenya and Zimbabwe.

With the Constitution of 1990 the last remnants of socialism of the government had also been canceled and in 1991 a new Congress of the Front was convened, which was also stripped of the leading role it had always had in the government.

The negotiations finally came to fruition with the mediation of Italy and a national peace agreement was signed in Rome on October 4, 1992. The following were agreed:
– the immediate cessation of hostilities;
– the withdrawal of foreign armies from Mozambique and the creation of a national army made up of 50% of ex-militants in the Resistance;
– the one-year deadline for the new elections;
– the sending of United Nations peacekeepers and the creation of a verification commission;
– a general aid plan and some measures to establish national conciliation, with economic aid to former Resistance fighters;
– drawing up a plan for the return of all political refugees.

On October 15, Parliament ratified all the agreements and the “Mozambique Operation” began. However, since all the plans took off with a certain slowness, the scheduled elections could not take place within the established year and were postponed to the second half of 1994.

In fact, they were held from 27 to 29 October 1994 with an average of 80% of those entitled to vote. Chissano was confirmed to the Presidency of the Republic and the Front became the first party. The newly formed government worked to improve the economic situation, so devastated by all the wars sustained both against Portugal and the very long civil war, and to do so it cut military spending first, then started a privatization project of many state-owned companies and finally liberalized the prices of many basic necessities. This last measure caused the cost of living to rise and this led to serious popular demonstrations which in 1995 hit the city of Maputo in particular.

While continuing, however, a certain situation of discontent, the government managed to apply measures that led to a visible improvement in the economy. And based on this, Mozambique managed to obtain from the International Monetary Fund a reasonable three-year loan in June 1996, then renewed in June 1997, also from the International Monetary Fund, also supported by other countries that provided their loan in May 1997.

If on the economic level it had been possible to achieve a remarkable change, naturally at best, in politics it was not the same. This was due to the fact that the Front disdained the collaboration of the oppositions which, instead, aspired to form a government of national unity. And this gave rise to greater discontent when the Front, authorized by constitutional rules to elect provincial governors, placed its followers in these positions even in those regions where the electoral majority had been conquered, at the time, by the Mozambican National Resistance.

The real political clash between the two forces then occurred when the government arbitrarily moved the administrative elections to 1997, scheduled instead for 1996.
These elections were still postponed and took place only in June 1998 and recorded a low turnout.

Then the oppositions were not satisfied even with the results of the presidential and legislative ones which took place in December 1999 and which assigned the victory respectively to Chissano and to the Front.

Internationally, relations with South Africa improved when apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was elected President of the Republic. And also those, which were already good, improved with Great Britain favoring the entry of Mozambique into the Commonwealth.