Mozambique: Towards a political solution

Extracted from: "Mozambique" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 197-200.

In the course of 1990 the Frelimo government unveiled its plans for a new Mozambique which included a multiparty system. This annoyed the hardliners in the party who thought multipartyism was not suitable in a multicultural society, while Renamo rejected the draft constitution, not because it did not agree with the broad principles, but because it would not have an opportunity to make inputs. The new multiparty constitution, which contained a bill of human rights, was endorsed by the People's Assembly (henceforth The Assembly of the Republic) in November 1990 and came into force at the end of that month. In line with the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism, the constitution was completely free from communist terminology and, for example, the term "people's" was deleted from the country's official name. Several political parties began to function after they had been legalized in February 1991 and Frelimo opened up its ranks to become an all-inclusive party as it had been in its early years.

Meanwhile, the pressure had been mounting on Frelimo and Renamo by countries detrimentally affected by the instability in Mozambique - Zimbabwe and Malawi in particular - to start negotiations. These pressures converged with Frelimo's constitutional reforms and other regional trends - Namibia's independence, the commencement of Angola's peace negotiations, the winds of change in South Africa and the surge towards democracy in the rest of Africa - to improve the climate for peace talks between the Mozambican combatants. Strong pressure was also brought to bear on both parties by the churches and donor countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

A great obstacle in getting the two parties together for talks was the Frelimo government's refusal to recognize Renamo as an equal negotiating partner and its insistence on a ceasefire as a precondition for direct talks. However, at last yielding to the pressures, President Chissano announced in March 1990 his government's intention to hold direct talks with the Renamo leadership. After having difficulty to agree on a venue acceptable to both of them, Frelimo and Renamo accepted Santo Egidio's invitation to meet at the organization's Rome head office, where the talks commenced in July that year. In addition to the Frelimo government and Renamo delegations, the talks were attended by four permanent mediators: Archbishop Goncalves, Professor Andrea Riccardi (the head of Santo Egidio), Dom Matteo Zuppi, also from Santo Egidio, and Mario Raffaelli, a representative of the Italian government and coordinator of the mediators.

After two years of difficult negotiations many agreements had been concluded, but it seemed as if the talks would carry on forever until President Chissano and Renamo President Dhlakama, meeting each other for the first time in August 1992, reached a settlement. The protracted drought that was ravaging Mozambique in the early 1990s and the country's dire need for humanitarian assistance contributed in no small way to the two leaders' desire for peace at this stage. Consequently, the General Peace Agreement (GPA) was signed, in the presence of the Italian minister of foreign affairs and other foreign dignitaries, on 4 October. The GPA contained seven protocols, including the ceasefire agreement, and four other documents. At the same time the United Nations was called in to supervise and assist with the implementation of the GPA, as soon as possible after 15 October 1992, the date on which the ceasefire came into force. The GPA was subsequently adopted by the Mozambican national legislature and it became part of the country's law.

Similar to the peace plan for Angola, the one for Mozambique provided for the ceasefire to be followed by three main tasks: the disarming and demobilization of the two rival armies according to a timetable, the creation of a new national army, and the holding of multiparty elections to complete the process. However, the Mozambicans had the benefit of learning from the experience with the Angolan peace process that was collapsing at the time they concluded the GPA in Rome. Renamo, for instance, felt that Unita had allowed the MPLA government to wield too much power in the pre-election phase and was determined that the same would not happen in Mozambique. As a result, the GPA was much more complex than the Bicesse Accords and the mission of the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) extended well beyond that of UNAVEM in Angola.

Moreover, contrasting with the situation in Angola, the military component of Onumoz - more than 6 000 personnel - was much larger and better equipped than Unavem's in the pre-election phase and the UN Special Envoy occupied a stronger position than was the case in Angola up to 1995. Thus the Special Envoy chaired the Supervising and Monitoring Commission (CSC) in stead of being just one of the members as in Angola.

The UN Secretary-General appointed Aldo Ajello - a former Italian politician and a senior staff member of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) - as his Special Envoy or Special Representative in Mozambique who was also the head of Onumoz. The CSC, chaired by Ajello, was the principal and overarching body responsible for the implementation of the peace plan. Besides the chairperson, the CSC consisted of representatives of the Mozambican government, Renamo, and the Organization of African Unity and ambassadors from the following observer countries: France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Many other countries were represented, together with Onumoz and the contending parties, on the various subordinate commissions dealing with the implementation of the ceasefire, demobilization and reintegration of soldiers, the establishment of a new army and the monitoring of the police.

In addition, provision was made for a National Electoral Commission (CNE), a National Information Commission (COMINFO), a National Police Affairs Commission (NPAC), and a National Commission on Territorial Administration (CNAT). The last mentioned commission would give both the government and Renamo some say in areas controlled by the other as the peace agreement allowed Renamo to retain control of the areas it came to occupy during the war, mainly in central Mozambique. This was another contrast with Angola where it was agreed that Unita would hand over the administration of areas controlled by it to the government. Although Onumoz was represented on the CNE, the functioning of the other three national commissions was left to the Mozambicans themselves, that is mainly Frelimo and Renamo. Onumoz and the CSC nevertheless monitored and coordinated the activities of all the joint commissions, the various UN agencies and the plethora of non-governmental organizations involved in the peacekeeping exercise.

Of special interest was the role played by the UN Office for Humanitarian Assistance Coordination (UNOHAC). Working closely with Onumoz and the CSC, UNOHAC was specially created for the Mozambique operation at an international donors' conference in December 1992, a corollary of the peace negotiations in Rome. Eventually more than US $ 1 billion was made available from various sources for one of the largest humanitarian and socioeconomic development programmes associated with a peacekeeping operation. UNOHAC did not attempt to do all the work itself, but rather to monitor and coordinate the activities of the other UN agencies and the dozens of NGOs in regard to the repatriation of some 1.5 million Mozambican refugees, the resettlement of up to 100 000 demobilized soldiers and their reintegration into civilian society, and the distribution of food and medical aid in areas devastated by the war, to mention just the principal tasks. It fell to UNOHAC to organize for a start to be made with the lifting of the millions of landmines planted during the war.