Just thought I would post a bit of an update for those that are interested in the political situation in Mozambique.   

I have been spending some time working in Mozambique lately, in a remote area of Gaza province, close to the Sango Border post of Zimbabwe.

 

As well as having a friend that has a business there, I have an established relationship with the people staying in this area.  They are mainly of Shangaan origin.

 

This border and the town of Chicualacuala (Eduardo Mondlane) was the centre of a lot of conflict both during Zimbabwe’s war for independence and the Mozambique civil war.  Many people here have vivid memories of the war and were actively involved in fighting.  The scars of war remain with the remains of shelled buildings and old tanks lying around and anti personnel mines still a big problem.  

 

No doubt you will have seen some mention in the news that there has been a resurgence in the conflict between Renamo and the Frelimo government, with Renamo declaring that the peace agreement is finished between them.   Renamo is a conservative party led by Afonso Dhlakama – it has taken a strong anti-communist stance in the past.

 

If you talk to the people on the ground in the rural areas particularly, you will uncover a ground swell of support for Renamo.  People are dissatisfied with the government because, although the Mozambique economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, many people are not yet benefitting and poverty is still a significant issue.  The feeling is that government officials, particularly President Guebuza, are lining their own pockets, taking kickbacks from foreign companies wishing to invest, particularly in the mining sector.

My personal experience is that corruption is alive and well on a major scale in Mozambique.   If you are running a business and want to avoid hassles from government officials you end up paying money to people to stay away from your business.

 

Although the news is reporting a conflict situation that appears to be under control by government troops, this may be far from the truth.  People that are directly involved with Renamo have told me that they have in fact got troops now in key positions throughout Mozambique in preparation for a coup.  The strategy has been to quietly move into villages and meet with local leaders and the community to gain support and allay fears that they are looking to kill civilians.  Many Renamo soldiers are very experienced veterans who know the bush well and can move around virtually undetected.  In contrast, government troops are mainly young, inexperienced men.   The government army has struggled to recruit people and it is rumored that they don’t have the numbers to resist a coup attempt.

 

The skirmishes that have made the news are Renamo fighters engaging with government troops and police and are designed to distract attention from other Renamo activities.

 

I have been told that there will be a major strike on government within the next month and Dhlakama has said that he will meet to negotiate with government on February 20th.   Renamo troops are apparently about 60km away from where I am now and on their way to the border.   Until something actually happens it is hard to know how much of what I am being told is rhetoric, but I have no reason not to believe this.   I guess we just have to wait and see.

 

I just pray that if a coup is imminent then it can take place quietly and without bloodshed.  Mozambique has suffered enough of that.

 

If a coup does occur then it will create an interesting situation for Zimbabwe.   Mugabe and President Guebuza are close allies and Mugabe has always said that he will send troops to fight Renamo.  The challenge is that the government is broke and they can ill afford to send troops anywhere.    A Renamo takeover in Mozambique could instigate a new political landscape in Zimbabwe. 

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