Category Archives: Moçambique

Renamo’s new war rhetoric

Renamo’s new war rhetoric

How serious is the threat to peace in Mozambique?

October 26, 2013

By Corinna Jentzsch, Yale University.

Email: corinna.jentzsch

via NAI Forum.

via NAI Forum.

Renamo’s new war rhetoric

How serious is the threat to peace in Mozambique?

Corinna J

October 26, 2013

By Corinna Jentzsch, Yale University.


After several violent incidents over the past year and an attack by Frelimo on Renamo’s current base in the country’s central region this week, Renamo canceled the peace deal and armed men attacked a police station.

Is Mozambique back on the brink of civil war? The US has demanded dialogue between the leaders to deescalate the situation. How serious is Renamo’s war rhetoric?

Renamo’s major concern has been Frelimo’s growing strength and power, and its own shrinking popular base, resources and influence.

Several analysts claim that what Renamo really wants is not power, but money and a ‘piece of the cake’ of the natural resource wealth.

On October 4th, the peace accord between the opposition Renamo and the party in power, Frelimo, signed after more than a decade and a half of civil war, celebrated its 21st anniversary.

After several violent incidents over the past year and an attack by Frelimo on Renamo’s current base in the country’s central region this week, Renamo canceled the peace deal and armed men attacked a police station. Several media outlets made it sound as if Mozambique is back on the brink of civil war, and the US has demanded dialogue between the leaders to deescalate the situation. How serious is Renamo’s pro-war rhetoric?

Renamo has threatened to return to war many times over the last years. “Canceling the peace deal” is the newest version of a threat that Renamo has used in the past to put the Frelimo government—in power since independence—under pressure. This threat is frequently withdrawn, as happened this time, and Renamo leaders keep reassuring the people that they do not want to wage another war against the government.

As Joseph Hanlon, scholar and author of several books on Mozambican history and politics, has noted in a commentary on recent developments, history has to be taken into account to evaluate what’s currently happening in Mozambique. This is not a sudden escalation of Renamo-Frelimo relations, but needs to be seen in the context of Renamo’s difficult transformation into a political party after the end of the civil war in 1992 and Frelimo’s strong grip on power.

Renamo was a serious competitor in post-war elections, and almost won the presidential ticket in 1999. While international observers declared the electoral process to have been free and fair, Renamo claimed that Frelimo had rigged the elections. Since then, Renamo repeatedly accused Frelimo of election fraud and pursued a strategy of maximalist demands, threats and boycotts to try to influence politics outside of electoral processes.

Renamo’s major concern has been Frelimo’s growing strength and power, and its own decreasing resources and influence. While Frelimo developed into a strong political party, similar to European parties in structure, Renamo’s leadership is detached from its popular base and lacks resources.

Many of Frelimo’s party leaders are successful businessmen and—in contrast to Renamo’s leaders—have benefitted from Mozambique’s discovery of vast natural resource wealth and steady economic growth. Moreover, Frelimo has recently made efforts to control the media more closely and has put pressure on two independent media outlets to replace editors that had been critical of Frelimo.

In protest against his party’s increasing marginalization after the 2009 elections, during which Renamo lost a large number of votes, Dhlakama retreated to the northern province Nampula. After some time off the political stage, Dhlakama returned in 2011 with threats to reassemble demobilized combatants in camps and stage large-scale demonstrations to “peacefully” overthrow the government, so that the country no longer “belongs to Frelimo” and can be “returned” to the people.

After a clash between Renamo and Frelimo security forces at Renamo’s headquarters in Nampula in March 2012, where hundreds of Renamo supporters had assembled and presumably waited for money for a “second demobilization”, Dhlakama moved to the central region, district of Gorongosa, close to where the central base was located during the war. A couple of hundred war veterans still lived in the area and had been waiting for Dhlakama’s orders.

Since his return to Gorongosa, the tensions between Frelimo and Renamo have risen, and several violent incidents occurred in surrounding areas over the past year. In April, three people died when armed men attacked a bus in Sofala province in the central region and five more people died in clashes between Renamo and Frelimo in the same area; in June, two people died when armed men blocked the main North-South highway and attacked trucks and a bus, for which Renamo assumed  responsibility.

Renamo’s recent activities focus on the local elections scheduled for November 20 this year. Dhlakama demanded changes to the electoral legislation that currently gives an advantage to Frelimo, but Renamo’s proposals weren’t accepted in parliament.

Since then, Dhlakama decided to boycott the local elections, and his and other Renamo leaders’ rhetoric sometimes even implies that they want to disrupt the elections and make it impossible for people to vote at all. Several rounds of high-level talks between Renamo and Frelimo did not bring solutions that could be accepted by both parties, as Frelimo is not willing to meet Dhlakama’s maximalist demands.

Thus relations have clearly deteriorated. Renamo’s spokesman Fernando Mazanga said that the government’s attack on Renamo’s base this week equaled a declaration of war, as the attack was not conducted by the Rapid Intervention Forces (those previously involved in actions against Renamo), but by the army.

These tensions suggest that violence is likely to escalate. However, Renamo is weak—in terms of political impact, financial resources, popular support, and military resources. Dhlakama prevented the rise of talented party leaders, who then left the party and joined the new opposition party MDM. Dhlakama did not use the parliament to reach his goals or accepted offers from Frelimo, always trying to get a better deal.

Renamo has lost the control of municipalities, has no mayors, and only 51 members of parliament left. This also means that it has fewer financial resources, as parties receive financial support depending on the number of members in parliament. There is limited communication between the party leadership and its base in the rural areas, and thus not much mobilization to support Dhlakama’s extreme positions.

During interviews I conducted in 2011 and 2012, former Renamo combatants told me they had never heard of Dhlakama’s plans to stage massive demonstrations and that they don’t want another war. Some people say though that the young people who haven’t seen the hardships of war might be willing to take up arms. Renamo could exploit grievances arising from resettlement through the exploitation of natural resources, rising inequality, and rising prices for basic necessities.

However, Renamo’s demands don’t speak to young people’s concern, there is no mobilization, and the party is militarily weak— Renamo no longer has the foreign support from South Africa that kept the war going. The same is true for Frelimo: no one wants to return to war, and the small national army has few resources (however, Frelimo is in negotiations with France to buy trawlers and patrol boats for over US$300 million).

In the end, therefore, it’s unclear what will follow from Dhlakama’s threats. Carlos Serra, professor at Mozambique’s national university Eduardo Mondlane, can think of four scenarios: low-intensity warfare, medium-intensity warfare, a “Savimbi-style” renewal of Renamo’s party without Dhlakama (Jonas Savimbi, leader of the opposition force UNITA in Angola, died in 2002), or a fragile peace.

The editor of the Mozambican @Verdade, a newspaper which has repeatedly criticized Frelimo’s authoritarian tendencies, accuses Frelimo of seeking to kill Dhlakama by attacking Renamo’s base, as he is the “only stone left in [President] Armando Guebuza’s shoes.” In@Verdade’s eyes, Dhlakama’s death—or even his removal from the party’s leadership—would mean an end to any real opposition to the ever more powerful Frelimo party.

Several analysts claim that what Dhlakama really wants is not power, but money and a “piece of the cake” of the natural resource wealth. As long as Dhlakama puts Frelimo under pressure and Frelimo refuses to share the spoils, a deescalation is unlikely. Skirmishes and attacks are likely to continue to disrupt people’s lives, especially in central Mozambique.

Frelimo’s security forces closely monitor Dhlakama’s movements, and Renamo does the same with Frelimo’s forces, which provokes the other side. This tit-for-tat can easily get out of hand, and criminal gangs might take advantage of the fragile situation. As Alex Vines, long-time observer and author of several books on Renamo has stated, Dhlakama’s strategy is risky, as it is a breeding ground for miscalculations by both Renamo and Frelimo security forces.

What’s really needed is a mediator who has the trust of both Dhlakama and Mozambique’s President Guebuza to prevent further misperceptions. Until Frelimo is willing to make concessions and Renamo willing to accept them, however, there is a long way to go.

This is a slightly edited


Energia e portos são a nova aposta em Moçambique | Económico

Energia e portos são a nova aposta em Moçambique | Económico.

via Energia e portos são a nova aposta em Moçambique | Económico.

RPT-AFRICA MONEY-Mozambique’s cashews get dose of Dutch disease | News by Country | Reuters

By Marina Lopes

MAPUTO, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Mozambique’s cashew industry is ailing, and the symptoms point to a bad bout of “Dutch disease.”

In a nutshell, this illness strikes an economy when the discovery of a resource such as oil draws in a flood of dollars, boosting the local currency but making all other exports uncompetitive.

The term was coined to explain the decline of manufacturing in the Netherlands after the discovery of North Sea oil and gas in the late 1950s.

In Mozambique’s case, an investment boom in the nascent coal and gas sectors hoisted the metical by a whopping 33 percent against the dollar from September 2010 to the end of 2011. It has since held on to the bulk of those gains.

Foreign direct investment soared to $2.1 billion last year – when the metical was the top-performing currency against the dollar – compared with just $7.8 million in 2010, central bank data showed.

While the government will welcome the money, it has crushed any cashew comeback and put the livelihood of tens of thousands of peasant farmers at risk in a country where agriculture still accounts for a third of gross domestic product.

The tropical southeast African nation and former Portuguese colony was once the world’s top producer of the coveted nuts, but – as with most of its economy – the industry was gutted when civil war erupted after independence in 1975.

The end of conflict two decades ago allowed the cashew sector to sprout anew, and in 2010, sales rose to a post-war peak of 113,000 tonnes, the third-highest in Africa behind Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau, according to the Ghana-based African Cashew Alliance.

But sales then tumbled to 63,000 tonnes last year.

Market and industry players say the currency’s appreciation prompted buyers in India, where most of Mozambique’s cashews are processed, to search for cheaper options elsewhere.

“Prices last year got to all time highs and that really hurts demand,” said Richard Rosenblatt, of the Richard Franco Agency, a U.S.-based nut broker.

Oil-rich Angola, another former Portuguese colony on the other side of Africa, also highlights the impact of Dutch disease on agriculture.

Before independence in 1975 and the chaos of its civil war, Angola was the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer, churning out 200,000 tonnes of beans a year.

Now, a decade after the fighting ended, it is vying with Nigeria to be Africa’s biggest oil producer, while its coffee industry remains in a rut with annual output of a paltry 4,000 tonnes.

One solution being explored in Mozambique is to process its cashew nuts at home.

“The cashew nut is consumed externally so it is the international price that dictates things,” said Filomena Maiopue, director of the National Cashew Institute in the capital, Maputo.

“We’ve reached the conclusion, in discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture, that in order to minimize that effect, we need to intensify local processing,” said Maiopue.

Even if the government does get its act together, there is little immediate relief in store for farmers as money continues to pour in from mining giants such as Brazil’s Vale to develop the Mozambique’s vast coal fields.

Joaquin Solomon Nhantumo, a farmer in southern Mozambique, has been forced him to grow lettuce and tomatoes in his back-yard orchard to provide for himself and his eight children.

But he says there is only one crop that will keep him in business in the long run.

“The cashew nut is our sole means of survival.” (Additional reporting and writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

via RPT-AFRICA MONEY-Mozambique’s cashews get dose of Dutch disease | News by Country | Reuters.

via RPT-AFRICA MONEY-Mozambique’s cashews get dose of Dutch disease | News by Country | Reuters.

Moçambique: a maldição da abundância? | Brasil de Fato

Moçambique: a maldição da abundância? | Brasil de Fato.


via Moçambique: a maldição da abundância? | Brasil de Fato.

Moçambique: a maldição da abundância?
acima cabeçalho | Análise
As grandes multinacionais, algumas bem conhecidas dos latino-americanos, estão se apoderando das riquezas de Moçambique


Boaventura de Sousa Santos

A “maldição da abundância” é uma expressão usada para caracterizar os riscos que correm os países pobres onde se descobrem recursos naturais objeto de cobiça internacional. A promessa de abundância decorrente do imenso valor comercial dos recursos e dos investimentos necessários para o concretizar é tão convincente que passa a condicionar o padrão de desenvolvimento econômico, social, político e cultural.

Os riscos desse condicionamento são, entre outros: crescimento do PIB em vez de desenvolvimento social; corrupção generalizada da classe política que, para defender os seus interesses privados, se torna crescentemente autoritária para se poder manter no poder, agora visto como fonte de acumulação primitiva de capital; aumento em vez de redução da pobreza; polarização crescente entre uma pequena minoria super-rica e uma imensa maioria de indigentes; destruição ambiental e sacrifícios incontáveis às populações onde se encontram os recursos em nome de um “progresso” que estas nunca conhecerão; criação de uma cultura consumista que é praticada apenas por uma pequena minoria urbana mas imposta como ideologia a toda a sociedade; supressão do pensamento e das práticas dissidentes da sociedade civil sob o pretexto de serem obstáculos ao desenvolvimento e profetas da desgraça. Em suma, os riscos são que, no final do ciclo da orgia dos recursos, o país esteja mais pobre econômica, social, política e culturalmente do que no seu início. Nisto consiste a maldição da abundância.

Depois das investigações que conduzi em Moçambique entre 1997 e 2003 visitei o país várias vezes. Da visita que acabo de fazer colho uma dupla impressão que a minha solidariedade com o povo moçambicano transforma em dupla inquietação. A primeira tem precisamente a ver com a orgia dos recursos naturais. As sucessivas descobertas (algumas antigas) de carvão (Moçambique é já o sexto maior produtor de carvão a nível mundial), gás natural, ferro, níquel, talvez petróleo anunciam um El Dorado de rendas extrativistas que podem ter um impacto no país semelhante ao que teve a independência. Fala-se numa segunda independência. Estarão os moçambicanos preparados para fugir à maldição da abundância? Duvido.

As grandes multinacionais, algumas bem conhecidas dos latino-americanos, como a Rio Tinto (Austrália) e a brasileira Vale do Rio Doce (Vale Moçambique) exercem as suas atividades com muito pouca regulação estatal, celebram contratos que lhe permitem o saque das riquezas moçambicanas com mínimas contribuições para o orçamento de estado (em 2010 a contribuição foi de 0,04%), violam impunemente os direitos humanos das populações onde existem recursos, procedendo ao seu reassentamento (por vezes mais de um num prazo de poucos anos) em condições indignas, com o desrespeito dos lugares sagrados, dos cemitérios, dos ecossistemas que têm organizado a sua vida desde há dezenas ou centenas de anos.

Sempre que as populações protestam são brutalmente reprimidas pelas forças policiais e militares. A Vale é hoje um alvo central das organizações ecológicas e de direitos humanos pela sua arrogância neocolonial e pelas cumplicidades que estabeleceu com o governo. Tais cumplicidades assentam por vezes em perigosos conflitos de interesses, entre os interesses do país governado pelo Presidente Guebuza e os interesses das empresas do empresário Guebuza donde podem resultar graves violações dos direitos humanos como quando o ativista ambiental Jeremias Vunjane, que levava consigo para a Conferência da ONU, Rio+20, denúncias dos atropelos da Vale, foi arbitrariamente impedido de entrar no Brasil e deportado (e só regressou depois de muita pressão internacional), ou quando, às organizações sociais é pedida uma autorização do governo para visitar as populações reassentadas como se estas vivessem sob a alçada de um agente soberano estrangeiro.

São muitos os indícios de que as promessas dos recursos começam a corromper a classe política de alto a baixo e os conflitos no seio desta são entre os que “já comeram “ e os que “querem também comer”. Não é de esperar que nestas condições, os moçambicanos no seu conjunto beneficiem dos recursos. Pelo contrário, pode estar em curso a angolanização de Moçambique. Não será um processo linear porque Moçambique é muito diferente de Angola: a liberdade de imprensa é incomparavelmente superior; a sociedade civil está mais organizada; os novos-ricos têm medo da ostentação porque ela zurzida semanalmente na imprensa e também pelo medo dos sequestros; o sistema judicial, apesar de tudo, é mais independente para atuar; há uma massa crítica de acadêmicos moçambicanos credenciados internacionalmente capazes de fazer análises sérias que mostram que “o rei vai nu”.

A segunda impressão/inquietação, relacionada com a anterior, consiste em verificar que o impulso para a transição democrática que observara em estadias anteriores parece estancado ou estagnado. A legitimidade revolucionária da Frelimo sobrepõe-se cada vez mais à sua legitimidade democrática (que tem vindo a diminuir em recentes atos eleitorais) com a agravante de estar agora a ser usada para fins bem pouco revolucionários; a partidarização do aparelho de estado aumenta em vez de diminuir; a vigilância sobre a sociedade civil aperta-se sempre que nela se suspeita dissidência; a célula do partido continua a interferir com a liberdade acadêmica do ensino e investigação universitários; mesmo dentro da Frelimo, e, portanto, num contexto controlado, a discussão política é vista como distração ou obstáculo ante os benefícios indiscutidos e indiscutíveis do “desenvolvimento”. Um autoritarismo insidioso disfarçado de empreendedorismo e de aversão à política (“não te metas em problemas”) germina na sociedade como erva daninha.

Ao partir de Moçambique, uma frase do grande escritor moçambicano Eduardo White cravou-se em mim e em mim ficou: “nós que não mudamos de medo por termos medo de o mudar” (Savana, 20-7-2012). Uma frase talvez tão válida para a sociedade moçambicana como para a sociedade portuguesa e para tantas outras acorrentadas às regras de um capitalismo global sem regras.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos é sociólogo e professor catedrático da Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal).