Mozambique - South African relations and the resurrection of the Nkomati Accord

This brief report describes the elusive prospects for peace in Mozambique despite renewed contact between the South African and Mozambican heads of state. South Africa was willing to play a role in attempting to end the war, which is dampened by significant constraints, including the refusal of Renamo to accept any peace plan proposed by South Africa. Mozambique has been plagued by political unrest and economic problems since independence in 1975. The economy suffered under nationalization and natural disasters, as well as escalating political crisis, the latter in the form of military and economic devastation by Renamo. These led Frelimo to sign the Nkomati Accord in 1984, in order to obtain breathing space to defeat Renamo and reconstruct the economy. With the failure of the Nkomati Accord, Frelimo adopted strategies of defeating the insurgents by force, pursuing diplomatic options, and seeking support from South Africa and the West, as well as consulting its allies in the Soviet Bloc. Domestic reforms continue in tandem with the military and diplomatic offensives. Economic recovery depends on Renamo’s demise. South African participation would be a positive way to implement the Nkomati Accord, because peace overtures must be preceded by neutralizing Renamo’s external support. Negotiated settlement is unlikely unless Renamo is shown to have grassroots support among the population.