MOZAMBICAN CIVIL WAR: MARXIST-APARTHEID PROXY, 1977-1992 (Cold War 1945-1991) - Stephen Emerson

  • Hussein Solomon SIGLA (Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa) Research Fellow, Stellenbosch University


When discussing the Cold War, the Berlin Blockade or the Cuban Missile Crisis frequently comes to the fore. What is often under-researched is how this ideological struggle for influence between Moscow and Washington was repeatedly played out across the African continent. Whilst superpower rivalry drove the United States and the Soviet Union to secure new allies and strategic access to mineral resources in Africa through economic and diplomatic means, it had a dark underbelly. The darker dimension of superpower rivalry in Africaas reflected in the use of military measures: awarding allied African governments with military aid packages, covert military assistance and training whilst undermining those African governments hostile to the donor’s interests through support for rebel forces in those countries. Whilst these superpower proxies advanced the interests of their benefactors, they often exacerbated existing societal and political cleavages in the country contributing to the chronic instability with which post-independence African states had to contend. In the case of Mozambique, shortly after replacing the former Portuguese colonial authorities, the Machel government made several mistakes in attempting to create a more inclusive economy, a government that served all its citizens, and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) movement enamoured with the socialist ideology. In the process, it alienated large segments of Mozambicans – including traditional leaders and the Catholic Church. In this volatile environment, the Mozambican Resistance Movement (RENAMO) emerged.
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