"Mozambique Rethinking Its Dreams," The New York Times, February 19, 1987.

The Main Point

Mozambique remained a troubled nation after years of war and political unrest and was forced to turn to outside support with hopes that they could somehow be pulled out of the economic, political and social despair their struggling country had fallen into.


Like many newly independent African nations, Mozambique desperately needed help to stabilize their economy. The struggle against communism and decades of war that accompanied it created a previously inconceivable state of economic despair that seemed unlikely to be rectified with out major assistance from a sympathetic and willing outside nation.

Lingering Soviet Influence

Mozambique gained its "independence" from communist rule after a struggle that lasted from the mid 1960's until 1975 when the Fremilo nationalists gained power. However, prominent leaders mysteriously disappeared, the term "comrade" was still in use, and guns and tanks were still being supplied by the Soviets. And even after their independence the Mozambicans were subjected to state-owned farms, the closing of churches and the nationalization of industries (all measures adopted from the Soviets). When questioned about these measures the new government called their actions mistakes. It was clear international involvement was necessary.

Attempts at Recovery

The Mozambican government devalued the national currency, imposed new taxes, increased the cost of housing, electricity, fuel and some luxury items, and provided farmers and workers with monetary incentives after talks with the IMF in an attempt to put the nation back on its feet. Also attempted was the Beira Corridor project that had goals of making trade between black ruled nations in Africa less reliant on South Africa. This project gained Western support as well as the support of 15,000 Zimbabwean troops.

Cautious Private Investors

Even though the West had provided aid, private investors were reluctant to contribute due to the lack of confidence in a nation with collapsed infrastructure and a war on its hands. There were claims from the Mozambicans that private investors such as GM and a British multinational company had contributed their support, but these reports could not be confirmed by the sources.

An Economic Collapse

The statistics speak for themselves:
-Exports were down from $285 million in 1981 to $87 million in 1986
-Cashew exports (primary export) fell from 90,000 tons in 1981 to 30,000 in 1986
-South Africa threatened to decrease number of Mozambican mine workers by half (these workers had provided $50 million annually) In addition, cafes and shops were closed and deserted.

Poor Management

Resources were more than ample in Mozambique to support its 15 million citizens. Little effort had been made to develop resources before the take over of Frelimo, and there was not enough skill and too much bad management afterward to allocate the resources appropriately. Add a drought that lasted for years, a few floods, and a seemingly never-ending war and you have a mess that has caused $5 billion in damages and cost 100,000 lives.

A Struggle to End the Struggle

This war is difficult to end due to various groups sustaining the conflict by supporting the opposition forces. The rebels, led by a Frelimo defector, were first sponsored by the Rhodesian Government to control the Rhodesian guerillas operating out of Mozambique. Since 1980 South Africa and former Portuguese colonizers fueled the warfare and the weakness of the Mozambican Army and the destitute nation provided nothing but encouragement and recruits for the National Resistance Movement.


Summary by Mary Johnson