Military Review

New civil war as a reality of Mozambique

Before the New Year, the RENAMO Mozambican opposition party stopped all hostilities against government forces for a week. Representatives of the party leadership said that they give people the opportunity to quietly celebrate holidays. But will the country have hope for a truce? For a long time, it seemed that the horrors of a bloody civil war were a thing of the past for Mozambique. But only in 2016, as a result of the renewed struggle between the two largest political parties in the country - FRELIMO and RENAMO - dozens of Mozambican citizens died.

New civil war as a reality of Mozambique

The civil war in Mozambique did not reach such a scale, as in another former Portuguese colony - Angola, but also brought a lot of grief to the people of the country. The origins of the confrontation between the two main political forces of the country, as in Angola, go during the war of independence. Portugal tried its best to keep its African colonies. It fit into the concept of the Portuguese leadership that only colonies make a small European country a world-class player. However, since the end of the 1950s, national liberation movements have intensified in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, which soon switched to armed resistance against the colonialists. In the struggle for independence, military assistance of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, above all Cuba, played a special role.

The war of independence of Mozambique began in 1964. The rebel formations were led by the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO). At the first stage of the struggle, he acted from the territory of neighboring Tanzania, whose leader Julius Nyerere was considered one of the main patrons of the revolutionary movements in the neighboring countries of East and South Africa. Under the command of the Mozambican revolutionary Eduardo Mondlan, FRELIMO troops began to attack Portuguese colonial troops from the territory of Tanzania. The war of independence of Mozambique lasted ten years and claimed at least 50 thousands of lives of peaceful Mozambicans and 10-30 thousands of FRELIMO fighters. 25 April 1974 in Portugal, the “Carnation revolution” occurred, which became the starting point for a fundamental change in the country's colonial policy. 25 June 1975 was proclaimed independence of Mozambique. Like other former Portuguese colonies, Mozambique chose the path of "socialist orientation", which didn’t like either the West or its neighbors Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. In the ranks of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, which came to power, opposition sentiments also increased. Many of the yesterday's partisans were not satisfied with the pro-Soviet regime established by the leader of FRELIMO, Samora Machel. One of the opposition-minded officers of the Mozambican army was André Máde Matsangaissa (1950-1979).

Andre Matsangaiss joined the anti-colonial movement as a very young man. After the independence of Mozambique was proclaimed, he continued his service in the Mozambican army and received the lieutenant rank. Matsangaissa served as an army quartermaster in the city of Dondo. But he was soon arrested on charges of a felony and imprisoned in a correctional camp in Gorongos. Since during the described events Mozambique was in the stage of an armed conflict with neighboring Rhodesia, the units of the Rhodesian special forces periodically made raids on Mozambican territory. During one of these raids, the Rhodesians attacked the camp in Gorongos and freed the prisoners. Matsangaiss, as a former Mozambican army officer, interested Rhodesian scouts and was taken to Salisbury. There he was offered to lead the anti-communist movement in Mozambique, to which the former quartermaster immediately agreed.

Thus, the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), which was destined to become the largest opposition political-military organization of Mozambique over the next four decades, emerged. At the beginning of its existence, RENAMO received assistance from Southern Rhodesia, South Africa and Malawi, one of the few African countries that maintained contacts with the “racist” regimes of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. 30 May 1977, almost forty years ago, the civil war in Mozambique began, which the RENAMO organization launched against the FRELIMO government forces. At first, the leadership of the Mozambican rebels was carried out by Andre Matsangaiss. However, on October 17, 1979, Matsangaissa, who was personally involved in the military operations of RENAMO, died in the Gorongosa area in a shootout with government forces. After his death, RENAMO headed Orlanda Cristina, a Mozambican politician who was closely associated with Rhodesian intelligence and was considered the conductor of the influence of Southern Rhodesia in Mozambican politics. The military leadership of RENAMO concentrated in his hands Afonso Dlakam. This man is still alive and it is he who still heads RENAMO as the largest opposition organization in the country.

- Afonso Dlakam with colleagues for RENAMO

Afonsu Dlakama was born on January 1 1953 in Mangunde, in the province of Sofala. In 1977, he joined the armed struggle initiated by the RENAMO movement against the FRELIMO government and quickly made a career in the RENAMO formations, receiving an officer's rank and becoming the commander of one of the partisan detachments. After the death of Matsangaisi, it was his fellow countryman Dlakama who headed the military structure of RENAMO. 17 April 1983 in Pretoria (South Africa) Orlanda Christina died in strange circumstances, exercising the political leadership of RENAMO. After that, Afonus Dlakam became both a military man and a political leader of this largest Mozambican anti-government organization. Under his leadership, RENAMO launched hostilities in the northern regions of Mozambique, as well as in the province of Sofala. For RENAMO, the most conservative, anti-communist forces of world politics, primarily the regimes of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, as well as Malawi, conservative circles of the United States, Germany and Portugal.

Until 1980, the main patron and sponsor of RENAMO was the regime of Southern Rhodesia. However, in 1980, Southern Rhodesia ceased to exist. It was renamed Zimbabwe, representatives of the Zimbabwean national liberation movement led by Robert Mugabe came to power in the country. They worked closely with FRELIMO, and therefore, as an opposition organization, RENAMO immediately lost the support of that country. Then the “specialties” of the Mozambican rebels were taken over by the special services of the Republic of South Africa, which remained the last stronghold of the “whites” in the south of the African continent. We can say that RENAMO only benefited from the transition under the patronage of South Africa. South Africa had more impressive resources and capabilities, so the organization soon moved from rare attacks from border areas to a full-scale civil war with the Mozambican government forces. The RENAMO training camps were redeployed to the territory of South Africa - to the Transvaal province, where Mozambican militants were trained under the guidance of South African and American instructors. Having intensified support for RENAMO, the South African authorities were guided, of course, by their own interests. The fact is that Mozambique strongly supported the African National Congress, which fought against the government of the Republic of South Africa. The unleashing of a civil war in Mozambique was a way to divert the Mozambican authorities from the situation in South Africa. In addition, the overthrow of the FRELIMO regime in Mozambique would contribute to the “de-Sovietization” of South Africa, which was extremely important in the context of the ongoing “Cold War”.

The first half of 1980's entered into history as the period of the most successful actions of RENAMO. At this time, the organization conducted its most effective sabotage, for example, the explosion of a railway bridge over the Zambezi in 1983. Back in 1981, South African troops invaded Mozambique, which also began to provide massive support to the RENAMO forces. The rebels carried out sabotage against government forces and civilian infrastructure. At the same time, both parties to the conflict did not spare the civilian population, who became victims of shelling, “sweeps”, and detonation of mines. In total, during the civil war in Mozambique, which lasted from 1977 to 1992, at least 1 a million civilians were killed.

However, the activities of RENAMO caused many questions and negative assessments from Western politicians. A more detailed acquaintance with RENAMO made it possible to see that this organization does not adhere to the “European” values ​​of democracy and human rights. RENAMO was a typical afronationalist organization that expressed the interests of the traditional elite of the Mozambican villages, whose positions were undermined by the socialist leadership experiments of FRELIMO. In addition, the militants of RENAMO showed extreme cruelty to the civilian population, attracted minors to their ranks, committed numerous criminal offenses, which also could not arouse sympathy for this organization from the Western public. The wise course of the Mozambican government also played a role in maintaining the position of FRELIMO. The Mozambican leadership managed to maintain good relations not only with the USSR, but also with the United States, and even obtained financial assistance from the American government. In 1984, Mozambique made an agreement with South Africa. After this, RENAMO lost most of the assistance received from South Africa, although it continued to enjoy the support of conservative circles and special services. The situation began to change dramatically after the Cold War came to an end. The cessation of support from the Soviet Union by FRELIMO forced the Mozambican leadership to seek new partners in the West. In turn, the American and European political circles realized that it was better to deal with the "re-educated" representatives of the current Mozambican elite than with the rebels from RENAMO.

- Afonsu Dlakama

The President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, went to negotiate with the leadership of RENAMO. In 1992, a long-awaited truce was concluded that put an end to the fifteen-year bloody civil war in Mozambique. RENAMO was legalized as an opposition political party, and its leader Afonso Dlakama began to take part in the presidential elections. He ran for president in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009. Dlakama’s participation in the presidential election was accompanied by various excesses. For example, RENAMO did not recognize the election results of the 1999 of the year. Mozambican national resistance activists held numerous protests, several opposition members died in prison under strange circumstances after being detained. But in the phase of active hostilities, these mass demonstrations then still did not outgrow.

For a long time, the leaders of RENAMO did not lose hope that sooner or later they would come to power as a result of the elections, as the population of the country would be disappointed in the policy pursued by FRELIMO. But the legal political struggle did not bring the RENAMO party the long-awaited victory. Moreover, after the discovery of gas fields in Mozambique and the beginning of their exploitation, the positions of FRELIMO began to strengthen. At the same time, the tightening of the political regime in the country began. As a result, in 2012, RENAMO activists began to clash with government forces. The party expressed a desire to revive its armed formations and training camps, explaining that by the desire to "resist the dictatorship of FRELIMO." Thus began a new phase of aggravation of the internal political situation in Mozambique.

- President Filipe Newsy

In 2013-2014 armed clashes continued between RENAMO forces and government forces. They entered the modern history of Mozambique under the name of the “insurrection of low intensity”, because these clashes were still far from the heat of the situation following the example of the civil war era. 15 October 2014. FRELIMO Representative Filipe Newsy was elected as the new President of Mozambique. From 2008 to 2014, he was the Minister of Defense of the country and thus was one of the direct leaders of the suppression of RENAMO speeches. The opposition did not recognize the election results, which led to a new escalation of violence. 14 June 2015, RENAMO militants attacked the positions of the Mozambican military police in the province of Tete, killing 45 government government fighters. Afonsu Dlakama was quick to declare that he personally ordered the attack. Thus, the civil war in Mozambique actually resumed, albeit in a less active form than before the 1992 year.

Afonso Dlakama admitted that he was "tired of the political games of FRELIMO." In fact, behind these words of the rebel leader, deep disappointment is felt - RENAMO could not turn into a serious political party that could “bite off” at least a small part of FRELIMO’s power. The Mozambican leadership, supported by the West, feels its strength and no longer intends to reckon with RENAMO. In the current situation, the West does not make sense to provide financial, military, organizational support for RENAMO, since FRELIMO is a more serious and thorough partner. Many countries and corporations have sustained economic interests in Mozambique, and civil war in this state is not at all in their plans. It’s another matter if such influential players as the USA or China decide to “divide” their spheres of influence on the African continent. Then one of them will be able to remember about the rebels and the rebel armies.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. knn54
    knn54 7 January 2017 07: 04
    Together with gas, war will come to Mozambique - there is nothing to be surprised at.
    The author omitted one point - in Angola and Mozambique, the opposition was supported by the PRC - in defiance of the USSR. So the phrase "if such influential players as the US or China decide to" share "their interests" explains a lot ... if not ALL.
  2. mitrich
    mitrich 7 January 2017 09: 45
    Here we should not get involved in it. And in the manner of a Chinese monkey, sit and watch.
    1. Normal ok
      Normal ok 7 January 2017 11: 10
      Quote: mitrich
      Here we should not get involved in it. And in the manner of a Chinese monkey, sit and watch.

      The fact of the matter is that China in Africa is not "sitting watching", but is actively acting.
      1. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 7 January 2017 15: 23
        Until 1985, China actively trained Afghan Basmachi, only with the proclamation of "new thinking" it stopped.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 7 January 2017 10: 11
    It is interesting what influence and political weight Russia has in Mozambique now.
    1. Aviator_
      Aviator_ 7 January 2017 15: 21
      Has nothing
    2. mcqway
      mcqway 7 January 2017 20: 35
      We have. Although not the same as in the 77-80s. Ours were there, are and will be. Though now as civilians. (but all ex :))
  4. maxim1987
    maxim1987 7 January 2017 10: 14
    Quote: mitrich
    Here we should not get involved in it. And in the manner of a Chinese monkey, sit and watch.

    Yes, we have no ocean fleet really left, no grandmas to project our interests so far
    1. Sergey-8848
      Sergey-8848 7 January 2017 16: 16
      We needed them only as a PB, and, in particular, as the flagships of the social movement (For this we taught them). With that very socialism (backed by finances), something went wrong with us. However, not all the presidents of the African republics managed to reorganize in time and find a bro among the American elite. As a result, after we and the Cubans left them (and the United States did not know about them), the guys were left to their own devices. Let them slaughter themselves to the heart, as in Somalia, and the remnants to the Angel. She will shelter everyone.
  5. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 7 January 2017 11: 56
    Thanks to the author for painting the political situation of this country. As far as I remember myself from my youth (the end of the 60s, 70s) this country was always at the hearing. In short, the war for Africa continues.
  6. Moryarty
    Moryarty 7 January 2017 16: 31
    Africa has not yet been divided into spheres of influence between world powers. But the section is already beginning, in particular, China is strengthening its influence.
    Thinking that in the next 20 years Africa will blaze in wars and revolutions, as the Middle East is now (the Middle East is almost divided, but Africa is not), since there will be a large division of Africa. The paradox is that Africa was the last continent that Europeans finally colonized. And now this is the last continent, which is not divided into spheres of influence.
    CYBERNINJA 7 January 2017 18: 52
    Such an opposition is normal in Africa and among the Arabs, armed and merciless ... The same opposition in the EU and the USA is necessary, the globalization of the world ...