The former guerrilla movement Frelimo became
Mozambique's ruling party after the country's
independence from the colonial power of Portugal in
1975. Two years later, Frelimo adopted Marxist-Leninist
ideology and a one-party state was formed. The regime
was challenged by the armed resistance movement Renamo,
supported by the white regime of southern Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe). A prolonged civil war broke out between
Frelimo and Renamo around 1980, and Mozambique was
largely devastated. The worst drought in over a century
contributed to forcing a peace agreement in 1992.
Multi-party systems and general elections were
introduced in 1994 - elections that Frelimo has so far
After more than a decade of war between the
Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and the
Portuguese colonial power, Mozambique became independent
in 1975. The Socialist Frelimo became the country's only
political force of importance and its leader Samora
Machal became president.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Mozambique. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The vision of the new rulers was to modernize
Mozambique in ten years, but when plantations,
industries and banks were to be nationalized, staff were
unable to realize the plans.
Most of the corps and well-educated professionals had
moved to Portugal or South Africa because of the war.
The industry was soon hit by a sharp decline, which had
a negative impact on agriculture and other businesses as
Frelimo was initially open to various political
views, but came from the late 1960s to be dominated by a
Marxist leadership. At the 1977 party congress, Frelimo
formally became a Marxist-Leninist party. Extensive
purges followed within the party and the military.
Already during the first years of independence, the
foundation was laid for the civil war that would
eventually destroy the country. To support the UN's
sanctions against the white minority regime in southern
Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe), Mozambique in 1976 closed
the border between the two countries and cut off coastal
South Rhodesia's access to the port of Beira, despite a
severe blow to its own economy.
Even before Mozambique's independence, the Zimbabwean
Zanu guerrillas had bases on Frelimo's territory and
from there made raids into Southern Rhodesia. That
business continued after 1975. Southern Rhodesia's white
regime responded by forming Mozambique's
National Resistance Movement (MNR, later Renamo)
in 1977, which consisted of, among other things,
Portuguese and defunct supporters of Frelimo. Renamo
went into Mozambique to fight Zanu but also to create
concern in the country and weaken the Frelimo regime.
Renamo attracted groups that had been marginalized by
Frelimo. This included traditional leaders and
Mozambicans who had been favored by the Portuguese
during the colonial era.
Culture and traditions are moving up
In their eagerness to modernize Mozambique, the
Frelimo regime tried for a short time to change ancient
life patterns. The widespread belief in natural
religions was condemned. Local power was taken from
traditional chieftains and given to young Frelimo
rulers. Up to 1983, almost 1.5 million people were moved
to giant villages where education, health care and
political influence would be more effective and where
state and cooperative farms formed the basis. This laid
the foundation for a dissatisfaction that Renamo could
When the civil war in Southern Rhodesia ended and the
independent Zimbabwe was formed in 1980, support for
Renamo ceased there. South Africa took over as a
financier and guerrillas developed into a greater threat
to the Frelimo regime than before. Sabotage was targeted
at schools, hospitals, railways and electricity
networks. Large rural areas were in chaos, people fled
their villages and food production dropped.
Mozambique's central areas were hit in 1982 by severe
drought. Heavily pressed by war and famine, the Frelimo
government began to change its economic policies and
began negotiations with South Africa. In 1984, the two
countries signed a non-assault pact. Although Mozambique
kept its promise not to give up its territory to the
South African ANC guerrillas, however, South Africa
continued to support Renamo. In order to protect roads,
railways and oil pipelines in Mozambique in their own
interest, Zimbabwe sent well-trained soldiers to the
support of the Frelimo regime.
The president dies in a plane crash
In 1986, the Frelimo regime faced a total collapse.
In October, President Machel was killed in a plane crash
in South Africa. Foreign Minister Joaquim Chissano was
appointed new president and proved to be more
compromising than Machel had been. Peace talks began and
in July 1990 Renamo and Frelimo promised in a joint
communica- tion to seek lasting peace. Frelimo, who had
renounced Marxism-Leninism in 1989, pledged to introduce
multi-party systems and hold general elections in 1991,
something that Renamo called for. A new democratic
constitution entered into force in 1990 and in December
of that year an agreement on a limited ceasefire was
concluded, which however soon broke. The elections were
held in the future, but new parties began to form.
In 1992, southern Africa suffered the worst drought
in a hundred years. The enemies were forced back to the
negotiating table and in October 1992 a peace agreement
was signed after 16 years of war in the presence of
President Chissano and Renamol leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Under the agreement, the majority of Frelimo's and
Renamo's soldiers would be disarmed and 30,000 men from
both sides would be gathered in a new government army.
In addition, general elections to the National Assembly
and the presidency would be held in 1993. The peace
process would be overseen by a UN force, Unomoz.
The parties also entered into an agreement on mutual
amnesty (impunity). No man has therefore been held
accountable for the many human rights violations
committed during the war. One million people were killed
during the civil war and several million Mozambicans
fled to neighboring countries or fled inland.
The first free elections in the history of Mozambique
were conducted with the help of the UN in October 1994.
Frelimo won a majority of seats in Parliament and
Joaquim Chissano was elected president. The last UN
troops were withdrawn from Mozambique in 1995. A year
later, most refugees had returned home.
The 1999 parliamentary and presidential elections
were largely a repetition of the 1994 elections. Frelimo
won 133 of Parliament's 250 seats. Renamo, which entered
into an alliance with a number of small parties, was
given other mandates. In the presidential election
Chissano again won.
Renamo, who accused Frelimo of electoral fraud,
refused to accept the election loss and boycotted
Parliament for one year. Foreign election observers
found no evidence of "serious irregularities".
After the end of the war, the economy gained
momentum. At the same time, crime became a growing
problem. In addition to widespread street violence,
mafia-like organizations devoted themselves to
smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering and
prostitution. Great attention was paid to the murder of
the reporter and editor Carlos Cardoso in 2000. When he
was shot dead, Cardoso was investigating how the
equivalent of SEK 140 million had been embezzled in
connection with a sale of a bank. Three years later, six
men, including a bank director and a well-known
businessman, were sentenced to 29 years in prison each
for the murder. During the trial, President Nhympine
Chissano's son was identified as the one who would have
ordered the murder. The trial testified to the links
between the underworld and politically powerful people,
as well as the widespread corruption in the police and
judiciary. Frelimo's reputation got a real thorn.
Guebuza takes over the presidency
In the December 2004 presidential election, Frelimo's
Secretary-General Armando Guebuza won by nearly
two-thirds of the votes over the Renama leader Dhlakama.
Guebuza succeeded Chissano in the presidential post.
Frelimo also won big in the parliamentary elections held
at the same time. As before, Renamo made accusations of
widespread electoral fraud, but the Election Commission
rejected the complaints.
Protests among poor urban residents in Maputo, among
other things against increased fares for local traffic,
demanded several deaths in 2008. The price increases had
been introduced to offset the rising cost of imported
fuel, which in turn was due to increased world market
prices for oil. Later, the government withdrew decisions
on most of the price increases.
In the 2009 elections, President Guebuza and the Free
State won once again. Guebuza received three-quarters of
the vote in the presidential election, and Frelimo
increased his majority in parliament. Renamo returned
sharply compared to the 2004 elections. In the
presidential election, Dhlakama came in second place but
with fewer votes than 2004. Three became Beira's mayor
Daviz Simango. He was running for the newly formed
Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM),
which managed to get into Parliament.
In 2010, the economic situation deteriorated,
resulting in unemployment, increased poverty and food
shortages. The free government was forced to cut
subsidies on bread and fuel to reduce state spending.
The price increases led to rattles in Maputo and its
slums. When police intervened, several people were
killed and hundreds injured.
In the end, the government gave in to the protesters'
demand for reduced electricity and water charges and for
the resumption of subsidies. Wages were also frozen in
the government and the public sector. Just a year later,
however, the government decided to gradually abolish
several subsidies and raise the prices of bread and
fuel. At the same time, support measures were promised
to the poorest residents.