Reality in Mozambique Punctures a State Department Myth

Report Africa

Reality in Mozambique Punctures a State Department Myth

September 22, 1987 3 min read Download Report
Robert J.
Distinguished Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

9/22/87 176


T he State Department has been arguing that giving increased levels of U.S. financial and military aid to Mozambique would "wean!' ifs communist leaders away from their present close ties with the Soviet Union and lead to a liberalization within the countr y. Yet in a recent three-hour interview, Joaquirn Chissano, 'Mozambique's President and leader of FRELIMO, the country's only allowed political party, firmly stated that this policy of "weaning!' Mozambique away from the Soviet bloc will not work.

Mozambiq ue today is controlled by FRELIMO, whose third party conference in 1977 declared Mozambique to be a . Marxist-Leninist state. The walls of Maputo, Mozambique's capital, are covered with officially painted slogans deploring capitalism and calling for the b u ilding of scientific socialism.1 Anti-Semitic posters also grace the capital's walls. One depicts "Zionists!' strangling blacks. Under FRELIMO Mozambique consistently has backed Soviet foreign policy positions, voted against the United States in the Unite d Nations 92.8 percentlof the time, and plotted to overthrow the pro-American government of neighboring Malawi.

Chissa WM Not Change. Yet when asked directly by a visiting group of American foreign policy experts whether increased American aid would lead t o more support for the U.S. in the U.N. or the removal of Soviet and Cuban troops and advisors, Chissano emphaticg@lly declared, "Never." He repeatedly stated that there is no need for him to change his policy since it is already non-aligned "and has been from the start." He votes against the U.S. he says, because the U.S. is "wrong." Ile U.S., he advises, should not look to him to change policy.

Chissano claimed there were "no strings" attached to the Soviet Union's deliveries of oil and weapons to Mozamb ique. When asked whether he would ask the Soviets to leave, he said: "We don't feel threatened by the Soviets. We are not afraid of the Soviet Union." Chissano refused to discuss irelaxing FRELIMO's near-totalitarian grip on Mozambique. Allowing democracy , it is clear, is out of the question. Since FRELTMO came to power in 1975 as the Portuguese Empire was dissolving, there have been no free elections.

"Look around in Africa," Chissano said in defense of his one-party state, "Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda. Nowhere have multi-party democracies remained." Rebuffing suggestions that he allow RENAMO, the principal opposition

group -in Mozambique, to take part in free elections, Chissano repeated his preference for a one-party state and closed the meeting with'the observation, 'This is Africa."

Time to Work with Freedom Fighters. For seven years, American policy set by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker has been to give Mozambique handouts from U.S. taxpayers. Since 1981, this has totalled $241 million; this year it is $85 million. The State Department says that these funds will encourage Mo: mbique to leave the Soviet orbit. Chissano candidly admits that this is nonsense. In fact, as U.S. aid has flowed into Mozambique, the nu m ber of Soviet bloc troops and advisors in that country have increased. It is time for the State Department to jpay attention to what Chissano does and clearly says. Instead of continuing to subsidize a pro-Soviet repressive re gte, the U.S. ought to be wo r king with the anti-communist freedom fighters ozambique, known as RENAMO, the Mozambique National Resistance. RENAMO now operates freely in more than 85 percent of Mozambique, has grown to more than 22,000 men under arms, and has limitedi the &overnment's control to little more than narrow perimeters around the major cities. A senior American intelligence official calls RENAMO, 'The fastest growing anti-communist insurgency in the world today." Opponents of RENAMO say that it lacks a political program, and thus is an army and not a political movement., In fact, RENAMO has a well thought out and documented political program whose major planks include:

Free Elections: RENAMO repeatedly calls for free, internationally supervised elections in Mozambique. By contrast, Chissano insists on one-party rule.

Freedom of In the areas liberated by RENAMO, Mozambique churches have been restored and returned to the denominations from which they were expropriated by FRELIMO. RENAMO calls for allowing the Catholic Church to regain its radio station and expropriated parochial schools land hospitals.

Removal of Soviet, Caban, East Bloc, and V abweaniTroops: RENAMO demands that all foreign military "advisors," and mercenaries leave Mozambique. Today, East Germans run SNASP, th e FRELIM0 secret police. More that 10,000 Zimbabwean troops prop up the FRELIM0 regime. A Pro-West Foreign Pbficy: * RENAMO supports the West and democratic nations and U.S. positions on Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua. RENAMO President Dhlakama has sa id, "we are fighting FRELIMO because they are communists and puppets of Soviet imperialism. We want to be truly independent and a friend and ally of the West."

RENAMO's political goals, say Western reporters who have travelled through the countryside, are shared by the majority of Mozambicans. i It is these which the State Department should be backing. To do so would translate the Reagan Doctrine from a rhetorical promise of hope into a political reality.

Grover Norquist : President, Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist recently returned from a 6-day visit to Mozambique; his tenth visit to Africa in the past two years, where he met with President Chissano, and toured areas liberated by RENAMO.



Robert J.

Distinguished Fellow