Mozambique in 1990

Date of Independence: 25 June 1975
Population: 14.52 million
Effects of South African destabilisation, 1980-88

(Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa)

  • 1 million war-related deaths, of which almost 50% children under five
  • 250 000 children orphaned or separated from parents 1 million refugees
  • 4.6 million people displaced
  • defence spending 35% of national budget
  • export losses US$1.75 billion
  • rural and urban population losses US$1.25 billion
  • key transport routes sabotaged: consequential loss of transit traffic revenue US$1.6 billion
  • electricity supplies sabotaged: net loss US$576 million
  • 1988 grain-equivalent food deficit: 2 million tonnes
  • 40% of rural water supplies destroyed or damaged
  • 5 million people deprived of medical services
  • 100 000 deaths from war-induced famine and drought 1983-84

Colonised for a period of over 400 years, Mozambique was considered a province of Portugal and the economy was developed to supplement that. of Portugal, and later her foreign backers, particularly South Africa.

In 1962 the Mozambique Liberation Front, FRELIMO, was formed to oppose Portuguese rule. Its first leader, Eduardo Mondlane was assassinated in 1968. After a protected armed struggle FRELIMO led the country to independence in 1975.

Strongly opposed to the apartheid policies in South Africa and Rhodesia, FRELIMO gave tremendous moral and material aid to the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe, with the result that many raids were staged by the illegal Smith regime within Mozambique mainly killing large numbers of civilians. The regime also sponsored puppet groups like the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR) to disrupt the Mozambique economy, now backed by South African interests.

The South African army has itself staged raids into Maputo on the pretext of pursuing ANC and PAC guerrillas operating against the Botha regime. Transformed from a nationalist party to a Marxist-Leninist party, FRELIMO’s efforts at restructuring the economy and improving conditions for its people have been frustrated by constant attacks by the South Africa armed MNR. Mozambique is continuing to suffer from a rising balance of payment deficits.

Malangatana, ‘Para a Mulher Decapitada o Presente que havia era a Flor de Cato’ (For the Woman Beheaded, the Present was the Catechu Flower), oil on canvas
Chissano, ‘O Problema de Família com os Filhos’ (Family Problems with the Child), umbila wood