Mozambique is a country located in the region of Eastern Africa. Mozambique has been governed by the Socialist Party Mozambique’s Liberation Front (Frelimo) since 1975. Although it has been two decades since the civil war, mistrust and tensions still prevail between the ruling party and Renamo, the former guerrilla and now the largest opposition party. However, the country’s President Filip Nyusi, who won the 2014 election, hit a somewhat more collaborative path than its predecessor Armando Guebuza. In the fall of 2019, a peace agreement could be concluded.
From 2005 to 2014 when Frelimo leader Armando Guebuza was president, the government’s grip on power was strengthened. Frelimo and the state apparatus grew together, the space of democracy diminished and political corruption flourished. Renamo and its constituents considered that Frelimo seized the country’s resources while guebuza operated a tactic aimed at marginalizing the opposition and reducing its influence.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Mozambique, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
In the autumn of 2012, the contradictions between the government and Renamo intensified. Movement leader Afonso Dhlakama set up a jungle headquarters and threatened with violence if Renamo did not gain more political and financial influence.
In the spring of 2013, violence erupted with clashes between police forces and armed Renamo supporters. The conflict escalated and Renamo began to carry out attacks on roads and rail transport by coal. When a peace agreement was finally concluded in August 2014, the conflict had claimed hundreds of lives. According to the peace agreement, the Renamella Bells would give up their weapons and be integrated into the national army. In addition, Renamo and the government would negotiate on certain issues such as the distribution of the country’s natural resources.
Dhlakama was nominated as a candidate in the presidential election in October of that year. The constitution did not allow Guebuza to run for another term, but Secretary of Defense Filipe Nyusi was Frelimo’s presidential candidate.
Dhlakama got about 37 percent of the vote, a double compared to the 2009 election, but Nyuzi still won by 57 percent. Frelimo also became the largest in the parliamentary elections, but lost nearly 50 seats compared to the 2009 elections, which meant that the party could no longer make constitutional changes on its own.
As in previous elections, Renamo claimed that Frelimo’s victory was due to election fraud and refused to recognize Nyusi’s government. The third of the elections, Mozambique’s Democratic Movement (MDM), also participated in the criticism. International election observers reported that irregularities had occurred but that there was no evidence that it would have affected the election outcome. Two months later, the Supreme Court rejected Renamo’s appeal of the election results.
Renamo lost the election but had increased his voter support. Many young Mozambicans, dissatisfied with growing income gaps and unemployment, voted for Renamo and Dhlakama. In six provinces in the north and in the central parts of the country, Dhlakama was the presidential candidate who received the strongest support. Dhlakama threatened to establish his own government there.
The country’s new president Nyusi was the first in his post who did not come from the southern part of the country. He emphasized the importance of national unity and invited Dhlakama to talks.
In the spring of 2015, Renamo claimed the boycott of Parliament that started after the election. The party then presented a bill aimed at giving the Renamo-loyal provinces increased self-government. Although the proposal was voted down in Parliament, Renamo did not give up attempts to increase his influence in the country.
In the second half of 2015, reports of clashes, with several casualties, returned between government forces and Renamo supporters, who had military bases and weapons inside the country.
In August 2016, peace negotiations began under international mediation. Renamo continued to demand a decentralization of power and that the armed forces of the party should be integrated into the national police and army. The talks between Nyusi and Dhlakama gradually led to progress and in early 2018 Nyusi agreed that the governors of the country’s provinces would henceforth be appointed by the largest party in each province. The talks continued after the sudden death of Dhlakama in May 2018 and a little over a year later – in August 2019 – the parties were able to sign a new peace agreement which included, among other things, the disarmament of Renamo’s armed branch of just over 5,200 men.
Corruption scandal and crisis
In 2016, a scandal revealed Mozambique in the worst financial crisis the country has experienced since independence. In 2013 and 2014, the state had guaranteed loans that three state-supported companies had taken in European banks totaling more than $ 2 billion. The companies would buy fishing boats and equipment to protect the country’s shores. Almost 1.2 billion of the loans had been taken in secret and never reported.
When the hidden loans became known in April 2016, international lenders pulled their ears and stopped their payments, triggering the crisis. The currency collapsed in value and the debt foreign debt rushed. At the end of 2017, external debt amounted to 112 percent of GDP. The government was forced by the IMF to agree to a review of the entire deal. The US firm that conducted the investigation found that it was not possible to determine what $ 500 million was spent. There was also evidence that the state was allowed to buy boats and other equipment at substantial overpricing, and that bribes were paid to high-ranking Mozambicans within the state apparatus and to employees of the banks that arranged the loans.
Only in early 2019 were domestic arrests made in connection with this (see Calendar).
The scandal was expected to put Nyusi and Frelimo in the barrel of the parliamentary and presidential elections held on October 15, 2019 after one of the most violent election campaigns in the country’s history when at least ten people lost their lives. Contrary to the predictions, Renamo strengthened his position and won more than two-thirds of the parliamentary mandate, while Renamo lost almost one-third of his. Renamo claimed that Frelimo won by extensive cheating and demanded that the election be redone. Local and international observers also noted cheating and other circumstances that favored Frelimo (read more about the election in the Calendar).
Concern in the north
Since the fall of 2017, unrest in the oil and gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado has not been in the far north. Eighty percent of the residents of Cabo Delgado are Muslims with strong ties to neighboring Tanzania. Nationally, Muslims are a minority and in Cabo Delgado there is dissatisfaction with the central government dominated by people from the southern part of the country. The government is accused of neglecting the needs of the Muslims.
Violent Islamists attack symbols of central power such as police stations and military posts but also villages where civilians are executed, sometimes by beheading, and houses are burnt down. About 250 people have been killed since the uprising began in October 2017. The Islamists belong to a group called Ahlu Sunnah wa-Jama (Prophet’s followers) but are usually called al-Shabaab by the locals. However, the group is believed to have no ties to the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Although thousands of soldiers and police have been sent to Cabo Delgado to quell the violence, the attacks have continued. The government’s forces have, in turn, been accused of violations of human rights.
The turmoil is ominous to the government’s plans to extract the large gas deposits found off the coast of Cabo Delgado. By exporting natural gas, the government hopes to lift the country out of poverty, but the violence risks delaying or stopping the project. Attacks have been directed at the US company leading the recovery.
Follow the ongoing event development in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Mozambique / Republic of Mozambique
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Filipe Nyusi (2015-)
Head of government
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário (2015–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Frelimo 184, Renamo 60, other 6 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Frelimo 144, Renamo 89, MDM 17 (2014)
50.7 percent in the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections; just under 49 percent in the 2014 elections
presidential and parliamentary elections 2024
Frelimo wins elections
Frelimo’s Secretary General Armando Guebuza wins the presidential election with almost 64 percent of the vote over opposition party Renamo’s leader Afonso Dhlakama, who gets just under 32 percent. In the parliamentary elections, held simultaneously, Frelimo wins big and receives 160 of the 250 seats. 90 seats go to Renamo. No other party enters Parliament. Voter turnout is very low, just over 36 percent in both elections. There are many signs that electoral fraud has occurred and Renamo is protesting the election result. The country’s Election Commission rejects the complaints. International election observers reluctantly give the election their approval.
Violent rattles in Maputo
Claws are breaking out in several poor areas of the capital Maputo since the prices of public transport have been increased by 50 percent. In violent clashes between the protesters and the police, three people are killed and over 100 injured. Many stores are looted or burned down. The government then takes back its proposal on raising the collective tariff.
Guebuza new president
Frelimo’s party leader Armando Guebuza is installed on the presidential post.