This is the first of a series of chronologically-organised thematic pages devoted to the long drawn-out peace process that eventually, in 1992, ended armed conflict in Mozambique. This had been waged against the government since the late 1970s by a group known variously as the Resistance, the Resistência, the MNR, or RENAMO.
The conflict and its resolution are the determining events of post-independence Mozambican history. There is disagreement among observers about the extent to which, on the one hand, RENAMO was merely a proxy for neighbouring minority regimes, or, on the other, represented real popular discontent with Frelimo policies regarding land, communal villages, religious practices and so on. RENAMO itself seems to have gradually integrated earlier «anti-communist» groups such as the PRM, África Livre and so on. The Frelimo government’s initial refusal to negotiate directly with the «bandidos armados», insisting rather on talking to their paymasters, the South African apartheid government – the organ-grinder rather than the monkey, in Sérgio Vieira’s memorable phrase – certainly contributed to the peace process’s slowness.
The ‘peace process’ – as it is usually called – was not a straight road; indeed, it was not a single, teleological process at all. The government, the Party, the Church, all exercised agency in different ways; and regional and international actors such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Portugal, and the United States all pursued their own interests in their own manner. Especially to begin with, to extend the metaphor even further, it was much more like a kind of ‘spaghetti junction’, with all kinds of false starts, wrong turns, dead ends, and routes that led nowhere, rather than a straight path to a predetermined outcome. This becomes even clearer through a reading of contemporary press reports and documents, such as the ones in this MHN dossier.
This first page covers a period of four years; subsequent pages cover much shorter periods, often, as the quantity of newspaper reports increases, a month at a time. You may navigate by using the multi-level menu at left, or by simply hopping along chronologically using the green buttons in the main part of the page. Each year or month is introduced by a short text pointing to the main features of the period covered, but users are clearly free to interpret the texts as they wish.
There will be an estimated 46 or 47 pages on the MHN website dedicated to the peace process, from 1984 up to November 1992. They are ordered chronologically. Click on the green button below to jump directly to the page covering the period that you are interested in. Note: at present only pages 1-12 are available, that is, up to January 1990. New pages will be posted regularly in the coming weeks.
◊ January 1991-
Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin. no.1- . This bulletin, published by AWEPAA and edited and mostly written by Joe Hanlon, still continues under the title Mozambique Political Process Bulletin. It is an important source on the peace process, and is available in electronic form as a series of PDF files here.
Sporadic attempts to find a peaceful solution to the Mozambican conflict can be traced back to as early as 1984. In March 1984 Mozambique and South Africa signed the Nkomati Accord, and in October talks were held in Pretoria, with the MNR in attendance, with a view to bringing conflict to an end. But these efforts were in vain, with the South African regime acting largely in bad faith, and the Mozambicans adhering to the line that they would not talk directly to «armed bandits». Fighting continued throughout the mid-1980s. After Samora Machel’s death at Mbuzini in October 1986, the Catholic Church in particular exerted even more direct pressure on the government in Maputo, and by the end of 1988 preliminary and direct contacts between church leaders and the MNR were being discussed as a possibility. Part of the problem, as The Economist had pointed out as early as 1986, alongside South African double-dealing and Frelimo’s refusal to negotiate directly, was the MNR’s lack of coherent leadership or a clear political programme.
◊ 24 February 1984
Grã-Bretanha tem papel para paz na África Austral, considera Marechal Samora Machel. Notícias [Maputo] (24 February 1984). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 129 kb. The text of remarks by Samora Machel on the occasion of the British ambassador’s presenting his credentials.
◊ 21 June 1984
Porta-voz da Resistência Moçambicana afirma em Lisboa: Renamo e Frelimo tiveram conversações directas. Notícias da Tarde [Porto] (21 June 1984), p.13. In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 634 kb. Jorge Correia claims that there were high-level military contacts in a neighbouring country.
◊ 16 October 1984
Não negociaremos com bandidos armados, reitera Samora Machel ao falar em Pemba. Notícias [Maputo] (16 October 1984). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 258 kb. President Machel repeats the official Mozambican government line while on a visit to Cabo Delgado.
◊ 22 March 1986
Mozambique: a need to settle. The Economist [London] (22 March 1986). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 150 kb. The problem with Renamo, says The Economist, is that it doesn’t have a coherent leadership or a programme, and this makes it hard to negotiate with.
◊ 20 June 1986
New movement for peace in Mozambique formed. SABC radio reports on 20 June 1986 that José Massinga, formerly of Frelimo, has formed a new party with Renamo dissidents specifically to achieve peace in Mozambique. Reported in the Summary of World Broadcasts [London]. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 71 kb.
◊ 26 June 1986
MNR’s response to Catholic bishop’s appeal. Capital Radio broadcasting from Umtata on 26 June 1986, reported in the Summary of World Broadcasts [London]. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 40 kb.
◊ 21 October 1986
Johannesburg radio says Mozambique government must negotiate with MNR rebels. Summary of World Broadcasts [London] no.ME/8395 (21 October 1986), p.B/7-8. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 92 kb. SABC editorial broadcast on 20 October 1986, immediately after the death of Samora Machel at Mbuzini.
◊ 9 February 1987
Renamo sets conditions for talks with Mozambique government. A Lisbon radio station broadcast on 9 February 1987, about a Renamo communiqué issued in the Portuguese capital, reported in the Summary of World Broadcasts [London]. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 32 kb.
◊ 4 March 1987
Talks with MNR bandits ruled out. Chronicle [Bulawayo] (4 March 1987). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 72 kb.
◊ 10 April 1987
Chissano tour. Herald [Harare] (10 April 1987). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 477 kb. Speaking at a rally during a visit to Zambezia province, President Chissano criticises the idea that the government should negotiate with the MNR.
◊ 22 August 1987
Firmeza popular rejeita capitulação. Notícias [Maputo] (22 August 1987). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 89 kb. The Frelimo Central Committee in its VII meeting equates negotiation with capitulation and recolonisation.
◊ 7 October 1987
Mia Couto. Não falamos já? Notícias [Maputo] (7 October 1987). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 155 kb. In his column «Cronicando» the writer and former editor of the newspaper makes the point that in fact, since the Mozambican government is already talking to the South African government, and since the MNR is not an autonomous movement, negotiations are already taking place.
◊ 12 November 1987
Anthony Lewis. Bargain with terror? New York Times [New York] (12 November 1987). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 168 kb. In his column «Abroad at Home» Lewis argues that since President Reagan would not advise Margaret Thatcher to talk to the IRA in Ireland, he should also not advise the Mozambican government to negotiate with the MNR.
◊ 7 February 1988
Sheila Rule. Mozambique is weighing a political end to its war. New York Times [New York] (7 February 1988). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 148 kb.
◊ 22 February 1988
Líder da Resistência disposto a negociar a paz com Chissano. Século de Joanesburgo [Johannesburg] (22 February 1988). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 65 kb.
◊ March 1988
Mozambique: waiting for peace. Informafrica [Lisbon] vol.1 no.7 (March 1988), p.15. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 241 kb.
◊ 4 August 1988-10 August 1988
Hoping for peace in Mozambique. New Nation [Johannesburg] (4 August 1988-10 August 1988). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 141 kb. The second part of an interview with the Rev. Isaac Mahlalela, general-secretary of the Christian Council of Mozambique.
◊ 16 September 1988
Dom Manuel Vieira Pinto [Archbishop of Nampula]. Arcebispo de Nampula propôs a Machel conversações entre a Frelimo e a Renamo. O Jornal [Lisbon] (16 September 1988), p.25-27. In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 822 kb. The text of a letter written by D. Manuel Vieira Pinto, the Archbishop of Nampula, to Samora Machel, dated 25 September 1986, and which Machel had not yet read when he died at Mbuzini in October of the same year. The letter appeals for negotiations to end the war.
Above: Dom Manuel Vieira Pinto (born 1923) is a senior Mozambican Catholic personality. He was ordained in 1949, and became bishop of Nampula in 1967, later being promoted to Archbishop. He retired in 2000.
◊ 23-29 September 1988
Shaun Johnson. The hand of peace. Weekly Mail [Johannesburg] (23-29 September 1988), p.7. Click here to download a PDF file, size 456 kb.
◊ 23-29 September 1988
Steve Askin. A studied ambiguity: the Vatican’s oblique message to war-torn Mozambique echoes the silences of the local bishops. Weekly Mail [Johannesburg] (23-29 September 1988), section 2, pages 1-2. Click here to download a PDF file, size 71 kb.
◊ October 1988
Mozambique: peace in the air. Informafrica [Lisbon] vol.1 no.12 (October 1988), p.6. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 104 kb.
◊ 6 October 1988
Edmundo Galiza Matos. [Chissano] attends rally in Nacala. A broadcast by Rádio Moçambique on 6 October 1988, reported in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service [FBIS] [Reston VA]. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 71 kb. Chissano asked the crowd about negotiations with Renamo and received a loud «No!» in response.
◊ 12 October 1988
Renamo reiterates offer to negotiate. Summary of World Broadcasts [London] vol.ME/0280 (12 October 1988), p.B/1. In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 39 kb. Transcript of an SABC broadcast.
◊ 15 October 1988
Moçambique: à procura da paz. África Confidencial [Lisbon] (15 October 1988). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 73 kb.
◊ 25 November 1988
Maputo denial over MNR dialogue group. Herald [Harare] (25 November 1988). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 48 kb. Minister of Justice Ali Dauto denies that a government committee exists to manage contacts with Renamo.
◊ 25 November 1988
Peace talks with MNR’s refuted. Herald [Harare] (25 November 1988). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 153 kb.
◊ 26 November 1988
Mozambique: church mediation? Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris] no.358 (26 November 1988). In English. Click here to download a PDF file, size 88 kb.
◊ 23 December 1988
[Untitled news item]. O Jornal [Lisbon] (23 December 1988). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 28 kb. Quotes Marcelino dos Santos as saying that he has no objection to «these contacts» (between the Catholic Church and Renamo), so long as they contribute to achieving peace.