...Socialist Construction in Mozambique
WHEN THE LAST of the Portugese officials left Mozambique on June 25, there was no question of who would take over the reins of government. Unlike Angola, Mozambique has only one political party, and that party seems to have the full support of a majority of the country's citizens. Under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane, who was assassinated in 1968, and now under that of Samora Machel, Frelimo has led the struggle against Portugese colonialism since the party's creation in 1964, and is now the only legitimate political force in the country.
One of the main reasons for Mozambique's unity, which distinguishes its situation from the conflict in Angola, lies in the nature of Portuguese involvement in Mozambique. Mozambique has few mineral resources, and Portugal never invested as much capital there as did in its other Southern African colonies. Mozambique's industrial sector is restricted to the coastal area--thus most of the country geographically was not penetrated by Portuguese economic interests, and continued to be based on traditional peasant agriculture. During its ten years of fighting the colonial administration, Frelimo was able to organize the inland population, and the Portuguese could not undermine the party's strength despite its systematic bombing of liberated areas.
Frelimo is a self-proclaimed Marxist party, and Machel's plans for Mozambique are similar to the policies followed by Tanzania's socialist president Julius Nyerere. The day before he took office, Machel announced to a cheering crowd that the new government's first actions would be to abolish rent, to take over all private medical and legal services, and to nationalize all private and missionary schools. Machel's first press release after independence called for a development strategy that relies on the party core to organize the rural population into "revolutionary societies--communal villages...where that population will have an organized life, developing production collectively on the basis of their traditions, and promoting the exchange of knowledge." Machel stressed the need for unity in Mozambique, for, he said, divisions within society can only thwart Mozambican development.
And Frelimo seems singularly well-equipped for a strategy of cooperation with and reliance on the rural sector to combat the problems of poverty, illiteracy and the lack of skilled personnel that face most third-world nations. The areas controlled by Frelimo before Portugal's decision to renounce its African colonies were indeed organized on a collective basis, and the villagers were involved in the development of those areas. Frelimo ran schools and hospitals in the liberated provinces even while it was mobilizing to fight the Portuguese armies, and the peasant loyalty it won then seems not to have been eroded.
MOZAMBIQUE'S MAIN problem will be its economic involvement with South Africa and Rhodesia, whom Machel has promised to boycott if they do not end their apartheid policies. South Africa is Mozambique's largest trading partner, providing 20 per cent of Mozambique's imports, and the 86,000 Mozambique laborers who work in the South African mines send home nearly $2.4 billion a year in wages--equal to a quarter the value of Mozambique's entire manufacturing output. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for the newly independent country, which inherited a trade deficit of over $165 million from the colonial regime, to give up this source of foreign currency.
Nonetheless, Frelimo seems to be willing to cut these ties to Mozambique's neighbors if they continue their policies of racial oppression. Although it will mean a loss of foreign currency, Mozambique's delegate to the United Nations pledged "a complete and total boycott" of Rhodesia in September, two days before Machel issued a joint statement with Tanzania's Nyerere, condemning apartheid and promising support for black nationalists in South Africa. Mozambique is determined to avoid becoming a South African satellite, despite its apparent economic dependence.
But Mozambique's neighbors don't hold all the cards, for they rely heavily on Mozambique's port, Lorenco Marques, as an avenue to the sea. In the past, Rhodesia has sent nearly all its exports through the Mozambique capital, while nearly 20 per cent of South Africa's exports travel through Mozambique. If Machel closes Mozambique's borders to its white dominated neighbors, they would be left with only the already badly congested ports of South Africa as routes to the rest of the world.
SOUTH AFRICA also relies heavily on Mozambique labor for its mining industry, as nearly a quarter of its miners have come from southern Mozambique. Malawi is already withdrawing its nationals from South African mines, and if Machel's government recalls Mozambique citizens, South Africa will lose about half its miners. And the same reasons that made foreign labor so attractive to the mine owners make them reluctant to rely on South African laborers--a higher concentration of black South Africans in the mines could increase the number of strikes and work stoppages that already plague the South African ruling elite.
Despite the pressure from outside, however, Mozambique's immediate future looks far more rosy than that of Angola. While Angola's problems are largely internal, exaccerbated by the influence of foreign domination of the economy, Mozambique's internal unity should help it deal with its neighbors on an equal footing. Frelimo is determined to formulate policies that will hasten economic development, without sacrificing its political cohesiveness. If Machel and his party can avoid the tribalism, opportunism and power struggles that have toppled other socialist governments in Africa, Mozambique seems destined to become a leading force in independent Africa.