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Mozambique’s military solution: Could it all go to the beginning?

Monday October 25 2021
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President Kagame and his host President Nyusi addressing Rwandan troops deployed in Mozambique-working alongside the Mozambican Forces to fight terrorist groups in the area. PHOTO | COURTESY

By The Citizen Reporter

Mozambique has been in the headlines for some years now, mostly for very wrong reasons. Armed groups have terrorized some parts of the country to no end as control of the government in Maputo continued to weaken and in many instances disappear completely. The images which accompanied those headlines are very disturbing. In no time, it became clear that Mozambique could no longer manage on its own and needed regional allies to deal with its security challenges which have come to threaten the stability of an entire region.

It was another shock when Rwanda sent in soldiers who, alongside other Sadc bloc soldiers, managed to secure the areas which were beyond Maputo’s control for years in a matter of months. Rwanda, a geographically small country, with small population compared to Mozambique and one which had gone through its own horrors but somehow managed to image a better country in less than twenty years.

Journalists who visited the areas were quick to point out the differences between the two armies; noting that the Rwandans were better equipped compared to their hosts. Inevitably, many wondered, where did it all go wrong for a country that paid a heavy price in life and limb to get her independence?

There are those who point to continued failures for Mozambique to equitably use the revenues generated by its wealth in these northern parts, providing ripe environment for recruitment and resentments of the local people.

Others point to the powers that be failing to allow being held accountable by its own citizens who worked to expose corruption among the well-connected; the high rollers to the point of resorting to murder to keep such critics silent. To others, it’s about the continued struggle for power between Frelimo which led the country to its independence and Renamo, another armed group which fought for the same. Their on/off conflict has affected the armed forces and its integration efforts, weakening it in the process.

However, it could all go to the beginning.

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African countries whose independence leaders either died before such independence was achieved or died shortly after independence left huge vacuum to be filled. In the case of Mozambique, two successive independence leaders were assassinated. Eduardo Mondlane was assassinated in Dar es Salaam in 1969 and Samora Machel who eventually led the country to political independence died in a mysterious plane crash in October, 1986.

Patrice Lumumba who led Congo-Kinshasa to independence was assassinated shortly thereafter as global powers colluded with local actors to remove him from the political stage. The country has been through hell ever since. Amilcar Cabral who led independence struggle in Guinea-Bissau was assassinated in January, 1973 and that country has been plagued by bloody power struggles ever, as drug cartels fight for control and influence of the state.

The story is the same for Rwanda and Burundi. There are other African countries too which continue to struggle because the beginning was bloody. Rwanda has so far managed to turn a page, something which has eluded many countries on the continent as they continue to be held captive with successive leadership failures.

African countries which did not have the same experience have not all fared well but compared to those whose independence leaders died or were assassinated before or shortly after independence, the majority have fared relatively better. After all, not all independence leaders turned out to be visionaries or good leaders after independence and a good number of them were swept aside by military coups which continue to plague the continent.

The assassinations or deaths of independence leaders left many questions and the many what ifs. Could things have been different for the current Democratic Republic of Congo had Lumumba lived?

Could the giant of Africa have been a success story? Could it be a different story had Mondlane led Mozambique to independence and not Samora Machel? No one would be able to provide the answers but such what ifs have a certain allure to them.

Mozambique, with the help of regional powers has secured some of its parts but for any of it to be sustainable in the long run there must be a non-military solution in place because what brought the security challenges in the first place were systemic failures of the successive leaders the country has had.

A disappeared or disappearing state will not help matters in the long run.