Mozambique was a Portuguese colony and got its independence on 25th June 1975 under Samora Machel who succeeded Eduardo Mondlane who mysteriously died in 1968. The civil strife started when Frelimo government banned all other political parties which included RENAMO.

Causes of the Mozambique civil war

  • The colonial mistake of not preparing Mozambique for independence, this was evident with the way public property was mismanaged by the new African managers who had no skills. In effect, this created discontent forcing many people into the bush to avert the situation.
  • The 1977 ban on political parties left a lot to be desired especially RENAMO. This in effect drove a number of people to the bush so as to fight this dictatorship.
  • Cold was politics, Frelimo got support from the East which threatened the Western interests in Mozambique in turn the West sponsored rebel activities to weaken Marxism in Mozambique, the civil strife had started.
  • The Nationalization policy made the civil strife unavoidable, after independence settler property were nationalized which angered them, in turn they decided to sponsor rebel activities against Frelimo government.

  • The role of south Africa cannot be underestimated it supported RENAMO so as to keep Mozambique busy, in turn Frelimo could not support ANC and SWAPO against South African apartheid government. The civil war in Mozambique could not be avoided.
  • Post independence problems like unemployment, scarcity of essential goods among others led the civil war. It is important to note that the departing Portuguese destroyed a lot of infrastructures which sowed seeds of discontent on the independent government hence leading to the civil war.
  • Shortage of food leading to famine in Mozambique made the civil war unavoidable. To make matters worse, the rebels sabotaged the relief food aid forcing many to join the war.
  • The death of Samora Machel in 1986 plane crash convinced RENAMO that it was their turn to lead therefore when Frelimo’s Joachim Chissano took the tools of power, the civil strife continued.

  • The role of the UNITA rebel group in Angola can not be under estimated, it supported RENAMO rebels fearing that stable Mozambique could help the Angola government against them.
  • Presence of foreign forces from the East in Mozambique convinced the RENAMO that Mozambique was not yet free from foreign domination. To make matters worse, foreign advisors also existed knowing that it would take long to produce competent Mozambicans. This continued the civil strife.
  • The ambitious characteristics of men like Samora Machel, Joachim Chissanno, these were unwilling to relinquish power making the civil strife continue till 1994.


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