"Mozambique: Crisis Compounded," Africa Research Bulletin, Vol.23, #10, November 30, 1986. (8432-3)
summary by Mary Johnson
Mozambique, as a newly independent state, was struggling with a drought, a
mismanaged government, the death of their president, and uprisings from the
Mozambique National Resistance (MNR). Domestic production in the country
dropped 40% since 1981, the last year of any economic growth.
Badly needed imports were limited as export earning dropped dramatically.
The export earnings of 1985 were 43% prawns and 37% cashew nuts, cotton,
sugar, and copra, $82 million total (the lowest since independence).
Mozambique's only other substantial sources of foreign exchange income were
being diminished as well. The remaining Mozambique mineworkers in South
Africa, which brought in $85 million in 1985, were being phased out and sent
home due to restrictions from Pretoria. Dues received from countries using
Mozambique's port and rail system, bringing in $40 million, would now go to
South Africa as a result of MNR attacks on railways leading to ports and a
lack of technicians to run and maintain ports.
Fear of MNR insurgents and a lack of incentive for marketable agricultural
production left 30% of rural Mozambiquens with a food shortage. The
government reorganized state farms, encouraged private farming, deregulated
prices of some crops and raised official prices of others in an attempt to
rectify the situation. The government also tried to provide more incentive
to farmers by increasing the supply of consumer goods attainable in exchange
for crops. Similarly, state run industry was being sold to private operators
and businesses were being allowed to retain a portion of their earnings for
Ironically, Mozambique rests on an unexploited and rich mineral source worth
billions, but development opportunities cannot be explored until the crisis
and civil war have ended.