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The Facts


new internationalist
issue 192 - February 1989

Mozambique - The FACTS

Nearly 80% of Mozambique's 14.5 million people live in the countryside and two thirds of these are subsistence farmers.

Nearly half the population (6.7 million) is under 16. The average Mozambican can expect to live for 47 years and in 1985 could expect to receive only 68% of the calories they needed. (The lowest figure in the world that year.) The GNP per capita is $210.1

Under-5 mortality: 295 per 1,000 births.1

Literacy: 22% for women and 55% for men.1

Language: 16 African languages are spoken: Shagaan, Ronga and Muchope widely. Most belong to the Bantu family of languages, spoken across the border in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The official language remains Portuguese.

Religion: More than 150 religions are officially registered. Animism is still widespread. There are 4 million Muslims, 3 million Catholics and 2 million Protestants.2

[image, unknown]

Mozambique's geographical position should make it the ideal trade and transport route for its landlocked neighbours.

But South Africa has an iron grip on the economy of the region, making a $1,800m surplus from its trade with the six Front Line states.3

To break this dependence on South Africa the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) was formed in 1980 by Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zambia.

South Africa is trying to spike the plan by destabilizing two key countries - Mozambique and Angola.

Since the war started in 1982 its costs have been.


[image, unknown] 100,000 lives - as a direct result of Renamo activity.4

[image, unknown] 100,000 more in the famine of 1983-4 which was caused by a combination of drought and war.4

[image, unknown] 25% of the population forced to become refugees.4

[image, unknown] One Mozambican child dies every four minutes.4

[image, unknown] 400 teachers assassinated, kidnapped or mutilated.5



[image, unknown] $6,000 million - twice the country's foreign debt and 60 times the value of 1987 exports.5

[image, unknown] 31% of health posts destroyed with a loss of health care to 2 million people.5

[image, unknown] 36% of schools destroyed or forced to close, causing a 25% fall in school attendance.5

[image, unknown] 1,300 trucks, tractors and buses5, 164 locomotives, 352 wagons destroyed.6

But there are signs of hope...

Amnesty: During 1988 the Mozambican Government offered an amnesty to Renamo guerrillas. Around 2,0007 (of an estimated force of 20,000) accepted it.

Victories: Large parts of Renamo-held territory, especially in Zambesia province, were recaptured by Government forces aided by Tanzanian and Zimbabwean soldiers during 1988.

Mozambique needed $380,406,000 emergency aid in 1988 to provide for:

[image, unknown] 5.95 million people (around 40% of the population) needing support. - of which 3.3 million need emergency shelter, food, water or clothing.8

Overseas government aid is usually tied to commercial/political conditions. Up to December 1988 the international response was:9

US: $75.4 million, mainly in food aid and support private farmers. Condition of aid is distribution through the US agency CARE.

ITALY: $50.6 million. Most important contributor ($20 million) for badly-needed transport equipment.

USSR: $34.4 million - $27 million in consumer goods to help State marketing enterprise stimulate the economy.

SWEDEN: $31 million - Most flexible policy, responding to Mozambican Government requests.

CANADA: $26.1 million - $15.8 million in food, the rest in response to requests.

UK: $14.8 million, $2.8 million in food.

AUSTRALIA: $6 million, mainly in food.

[image, unknown] The EEC gave $25.8 million $17 million in food aid, and the UN WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME provided $16.5 million.

[image, unknown] Around 100 Non-Governmental Organizations are involved. They include CARE (US), $5.3 million; WORLD VISION (US), $5.5 million (Bibles handed out with food); OXFAM (UK), $5.3 million; CARITAS, $5.3 million; SAVE THE CHILDREN (UK), $4 million; CHRISTIAN AID, (UK) $3 million; CAA (Australia), $2 million; and COCAMO (Cooperation Canada Mozambique, an integrated NGO programme), $7 million.9

[image, unknown] Born of the freedom fighters who won independence from the Portuguese in 1974, Frelimo (Frente do Liberacão de Moçambique) is the only legal party in Mozambique.

Frelimo's political system includes collective working methods developed during the armed struggle against the Portuguese.


[image, unknown]

[image, unknown] In the years following independence, health and education programmes were dramatically successful. The justice system was restructured to create 'Popular Courts' with elected judges.

[image, unknown] But Marxist economic policies failed dismally. In 1983, at the Fourth Congress, mistakes of the past six years were publicly condemned and a more pragmatic (and capitalist) approach was adopted (and welcomed by the West).

At independence Mozambique was left with a handful of factories sabotaged by fleeing Portuguese.

This heritage - and destabilization - make economic recovery difficult.

[image, unknown] Agriculture employs 85% of the workforce, with 80% of production coming from peasant farmers. Industry is mainly State-owned and contributes only 10% of GDP.11

[image, unknown] Chief exports are prawns (24% of total value), petroleum products (17%), raw cotton 13%), and cashew nuts (12%).11

[image, unknown] Mozambique imports most from the US ($67m in 1986), USSR ($66m) and South Africa ($56m).12

[image, unknown]

Economic reforms since joining the IMP and World Bank in 1984:

[image, unknown] Encouraged private/peasant sector in farming.

[image, unknown] Increased agricultural prices and removed price subsidies.

[image, unknown] Invited private investment and freed up credit, foreign exchange and import controls.

[image, unknown] Sharply increased medical charges.14

Results: In 1988 the economy grew by 5%. In agriculture there was an 11% growth in production and a 12% growth in its commercialization.15 But the living standards of the urban poor plunged.

Frelimo insists that women 'must emancipate themselves' - but tradition is not so easily overcome.

[image, unknown] 90% of Mozambican women are unpaid, peasant farmers. Yet there is no mechanism for consulting them about agricultural policy.16

[image, unknown] Although 40 per cent of primary school entrants are female half of those will drop out before reaching secondary school - usually due to domestic duties.1

[image, unknown] Sexual initiation rites take two months and reinforce traditional attitudes about women's role and status.

[image, unknown] Polygamy persists (though the Party disapproves) and often results in women with children receiving insufficient support from their menfolk.

[image, unknown] Lobolo or bride price can be exhorbitant and turn marriage into a business deal between men with women as the merchandise.17


But the legal status or women has improved dramatically under Frelimo.

[image, unknown] On divorce the woman is entitled to half the family property and has child custody rights that are at least equal to that of the man.

[image, unknown] Sexual discrimination in employment is illegal. Paid maternity leave is a statutory right and workplaces employing a large number of women must provide creches.7

1 UNICEF, State of the World's Children Report 1989.
2 BIP Public information, Mozambique Religion, Ministry of Information, Maputo, 1988.
3 J Hanlon, Apartheid's Second Front, Penguin, 1986.
4 UNICEF, Children on the Front Line, 1987.
5 National Commission for the Emergency (CENE) and Department for the Prevention and Combat of Natural Disasters (DPCCN), Rising to the Challenge, Maputo, April 1988.
6 BIP Public Information, Ministry of Information, Mozambique Profile, Maputo, 1988.
7 Ministry of Justice, Maputo, September 1988.
8 UNDP Emergency Programme, Emergency Mozambique 88, Maputo, 1988.
9 CENE, Maputo, November 1988.
10 Ministry of Information, Mozambique Briefing: Democracy in Practice, Maputo 1988.
11 World of Information, The Africa Review 1988, Saffron Walden, 1988.
12 Direcão da Informacão Estatistica, Informacão Estatistica 1987, Maputo.
13 Ministry of information, Mozambique Briefing: Economic Recovery Programme 1987, Maputo.
14 Africa Analysis, London, 19 August 1988.
15 Report of the Prime Minister, Mario Machungo, to the People's Assembly, 26 August 1988, Maputo.
16 J Quan, Mozambique: A Cry for Peace, Oxfam, 1987.
17 J Hanlon, Revolution Under Fire, Zed, 1984.

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