The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

The End of a War, the Beginning of Peace

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 3, 2019 12:01

1 user

This week an agreement ended a war that had dragged on for 44 years. Lives lost, hardships suffered, has this long resistance been worth it? Few in the West even know of this war, and yet to its participants it seemed all-important.

The evergreen forests of Mount Gorongosa tower over the vast savannas and bush lands of central Mozambique. In its deep valleys and lush grasslands they took shelter: refugees from ethnic conflict, opponents to the Russian-supported fighters of Frelimo, people seeking shelter. First Rhodesian, then South African undercover forces found allies in their wars against communist-supported freedom fighters, and when South Africa settled for a negotiated settlement, the fighters of Renamo were also forced into a reluctant and short-lived cohabitation with the ruling Frelimo party.

Gorongosa mountain Photo J Stretz/Gorongosa.org


The differences were deep. Mozambique is, like many African countries, made up of a patchwork of ethnic groups with a long history of wars, slavery, oppression, and encroachment on each other’s territory. Add to that the indifferent Portuguese colonial rule of Mozambique for five centuries, the ideological struggles between hardline Marxists and Maoists, liberals, socialists and nationalists in the ranks of indigenous politicians under Portuguese rule, and it is clear that the outcome was never going to be easy.

Mural in Maputo. Mozambique moments


The Saint Egidio community arranged a peace deal in 1992 between the warring parties, and after the 1994 elections, Renamo became the official opposition, holding several important government posts. But the two never pulled together well in the yoke of government. Accusations of electoral fraud, government corruption, and marginalization of remote communities fed a long history of resistance and a low-level guerrilla war.

The resistance centered on the Gorongosa mountain, where resistance fighters had evaded government forces since colonial times. Military posts were attacked, roads cut, and police posts destroyed.

Renamo fighters will now disarm. Photo Jinty Jackson, AFP



But the world has changed. Development of the Gorongosa National park into an international tourism destination, thus creating jobs and generating income, gave the people in this region something to lose, and the recent disastrous cyclone Idai that destroyed most of the infrastructure in this region reshuffled the cards. Add some neat diplomatic footwork by the United Nations, some European diplomats, and the Vatican, and the two warring parties have now agreed to surrender all weapons and to participate in nation-wide elections in October of this year. 

 

Mozambique President Nyusi and Renamo leader Momade enbrace. It is peace! AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi


One of the drawcards is a visit to this region by Pope Francis in September, which is expected to help the national reconciliation and peace process. The Pope will probably seek to make his visit a point of reconciliation between the Catholic and Muslim populations of this embattled country.

 

Momade dances with traditional healers after the peace ceremony. AP Photo


And after the elections the hard work will begin: the rebuilding of a nation, reconstruction of a country suffering the effects of climate change and also the effects of corruption and bad governance. Building an economy based on oil and gas finds that would benefit rural and uneducated populations, developing an agricultural industry, educating people with a minimum of infrastructure, all remains to be done.

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 3, 2019 12:01

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: WashPost
2

Vatican says pope will visit 3 African nations in September: Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest