Tom Hooper


"Mozambique: Preparing for Sacrifice," Africa Research Bulletin, July 31, 1986 (8278-77)

Mozambique prepared itself for the "suffering" that was expected to come in the wake of sanctions against South Africa, and reprisals by South Africa against neighboring states. The economic activity of Mozambique had been in decline since it was liberated from the Portuguese in 1975, and it might not be able to withstand the sacrifices that a sanction against South Africa would force the nation to impose on itself. Tourism as well as maize, sugar, cotton, and cement production all declined by more than 50% from 1972 to 1985, with rice, coal, bananas, fish, and copper production as low as 20% the 1975 level, with more industries even lower.

The Mozambique National Resistance (MNR), an anti-apartheid guerrilla movement, concentrated on economic targets, and had nearly destroyed Mozambique's infrastructure, which left most of the people of Mozambique without a central government, outside of the major cities. The biggest contribution to Mozambique from South Africa came in the form of money sent home by 60,000 citizens of Mozambique who officially work in South Africa. Yet the suffering expected as a result of the sanctions could not equal what the country had already undergone during the continuous civil war. Terrorizing bandits attacked the country's agriculture as well as transportation systems, which also made up a large part of Mozambique's economy. There were an estimate 1.8 million people in need of food and other aid, yet there is no administration that exists to help them outside of the coastal regions and the province capitals. Though aid programs helped Mozambique following the drought of 1983-4, it is more difficult with a weak central government. Potential benefactors try to use their foreign aid to enact policy changes, for example the U.S. who pushes aid for large private farmers, in contrast to the head of the Mozambique government, Frelimo, who is committed to helping the poor peasants. It is unlikely that Mozambique will be able to resist IMF packages that enforce cuts to social welfare and require more privatization. Similar deals have been made in nearby countries such as Tanzania and Ghana.