News / Africa

Analysts See Little Threat of New Civil War in Mozambique

Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo receiving military training in the Gorongosa's mountains, Nov. 8, 2012.
Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo receiving military training in the Gorongosa's mountains, Nov. 8, 2012.
Anita Powell
Mozambique is on edge again about a possible return to civil war after 21 years of peace.  The former rebel group Renamo says it will no longer honor a 1992 peace deal following small skirmishes between its fighters and government forces.  Renamo has long complained that the civil war's victors - the ruling Frelimo party - have rigged elections to hold onto power. 

The Mozambican former rebel group Renamo said this week it was pulling out of a 1992 peace deal.  The deal ended a 15-year civil war that battered the southern African nation and killed an estimated 1 million people.

On Tuesday, gunmen thought to be with Renamo attacked a police station in central Mozambique, just a day after the group’s leader declared the end of the cease-fire.

Renamo has long expressed frustration at being an opposition party.  The former anti-communist rebel group has claimed that the ruling party, Frelimo, has rigged elections and has marginalized the opposition.

Britain-based academic Joseph Hanlon has been writing about Mozambique and Southern Africa for three decades.  Hanlon saud he’s not too concerned about a return to war, primarily because so many things have changed in 21 years.

“It’s not a return to war because neither side could wage a war.  If you go back to the 1990s, Renamo was supported extensively by apartheid South Africa and informally by the United States; they had substantial military capacity. ... Now, Renamo is composed of aging guerrillas who are now in their 50s and 60s and Mozambique opted after the civil war to have a very small military, so it does not have strong military capacity either.  So neither side can go back to war," he said.

Researcher Elisabete Azevedo-Harman, from the London-based policy institute Chatham House, said the roots of this latest conflict went back decades and involved the usual suspects: money and power.

Renamo, she said, has been sidelined in politics, partially because of the way the political system was set up.  But, she said, the group also never successfully transitioned from guerrilla fighters to political operators, and have lost popular support because of it.

Mozambique's increasing wealth from natural gas, she said, has also been a sore point.

“And Renamo feels excluded not just from the political power but also the economic power. And they’ve been accusing some ruling party members [of having] political control, but also economic control.  And of course if the country’s now rich, they feel they’ve been excluded also from this access to the resources of the country,” said Azevedo-Herman.

Hanlon said he expected leaders to look to the past to settle today’s problem.  Maybe, he said, the ruling party should throw money at the problem literally.

“A face-saving buyoff is the way out of it.  It will happen, but not in the immediate future. … It would be sinecures on government boards, but it would also be cash in suitcases.  That’s how the war was settled 21 years ago.  It was cash in suitcases,” said Hanlon.

Azevedo-Harman proposed a different solution.  She said that community leaders and religious leaders should try to hammer out an agreement.  After that, she said, they needed to take a hard look at the constitution.

“The two main political parties, they should involve these people and engage these people for an immediate dialogue and debate now.  But giving them a voice and actually also capacity of deciding, not just the two main parties.  Long term, the country needs to be rethinking the constitutional design that they have, the presidential system that doesn’t have checks and balances,” said Azevedo-Harman.

Both analysts predicted that the current skirmishes may continue, which could have worrying long-term effects. But war, they said, may not yet be on the horizon.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gildo José Munguambe from: Mozambique
October 31, 2013 11:31 AM
Dear world deal with this problem before is to late because once started it'll be a big loss,civillianes will losing there lives because of there political differences so please send the troops to end up with this threat.

by: Farito from: Germany
October 30, 2013 9:11 AM
Please send immediately Troups to finish this thread right now, before parties get more and more engaged, and people start to die!!! It should be a mix between African union troups and United Nation troups. This would guaranthee that the thread will not start and would finish within months (less than a year). Mr. Obama, Mrs. Merkel, Please take the initiative and show that the world that you are the new generation leaders, who are really concerned about keeping freedom in our world.

by: Joseph
October 24, 2013 12:13 AM
Writing about situations is easy, reality of the situation on the ground is another matter especially when people on the ground ,civillians, loose their lives. Please give us your thoughts on Zimbabwe, could be quite interesting and its future.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs