Some Reflections on Solidarity with Mozambique

by Bill Minter
Washington, DC, United States
November 8, 1990
Publisher: Mozambique Support Network
2 pages
Type: Policy Document
Coverage outside Africa: United States, Portugal
Language: English
The document says: Note: These hasty, simple and perhaps simplistic notes are simply for internal discussion. The document says international solidarity with Mozambique has gone through various phases, and been based on a variety of political and moral Justifications; in first phase of struggle against Portuguese colonialism, the leaders of FRELIMO could appeal to the international consensus in favor of independence; the sought to welcome international support against Portugal's refusal to accept this consensus; the solidarity cause gained credibility from Portugal's obvious illegitimacy, and from the personal and political willingness of the FRELIMO leadership to seek international alliances from people of good will; Portugal was supported by Western countries, and Marxist and racial forces were more willing to support an armed challenge to colonialism; but FRELIMO also sought and accepted support on humanitarian grounds from forces who did not share political perspectives such as support for armed struggle. The document says in the later years of the war for independence and most explicitly after independence, FRELIMO declared its support for socialist options, event formally transforming itself into a Marxist Leninist party, renamed Frelimo Party; those involved in solidarity work with Mozambique, whether or now they identified themselves as Marxist-Leninist (and most of those in the West did not), did identify with Frelimo's goals of building a socialist society, attacking inequality as well as underdevelopment. The document says in the period after independence, Mozambique also gained international solidarity because if its involvement in the continuing struggle against white-minority rule, in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and then in South Africa; this solidarity was not limited to forces who supported socialism, since the basic demands of the anti-apartheid movement were still the uncomplicated tasks of independence and the abolition of apartheid; as the war waged by South Africa through Renamo grew more devasting through the 1980s, solidarity for Mozambique was increasing based on defending the country against this inhumane and unjustified assault; as Mozambique reached out, particularly after Frelimo leaders identified the need to seek increased Western support in 1982 and 1983, the country attracted the sympathy of many forces on humanitarian grounds; this actually included forces that were indifferent to socialist goals, or in some cases hostile to them. The document says for whatever complex of reasons - - the war, internal weaknesses, the world political situation - - the attempt to build socialism was worn down and replaced by the struggle to survive; now the Mozambican state is in may ways no different from other African states in crisis - - from the point of view of results for the people, it has failed; and the measures it was forced into in an attempt to survive and recover are the IMF/World Bank adjustment measures which may save part of the economy but show little future and sacrifice the goals of attacking inequality and building a just society. The document says the Mozambican people and the leadership do not deserve condemnation for this: the multiple assaults in which they have been subjected are enormous, and the capacity for survival deserves respect.  The document says does that mean, then, that the time for solidarity is over? The document says I think not; the Mozambican people deserve not only respect but also concrete support in recovering from the terrible price they paid during the years apartheid was dying; in the U.S. there is a special responsibility given the way in which the Reagan administration’s constructive engagement and actions of right-wing groups gave indirect and direct support to South Africa and Renamo. The document says does that solidarity mean that progressive people overseas should support any and all political steps or socio-economic policies of a Frelimo government? The document says critical support is still solidarity; it means that solidarity groups should defend Mozambique’s right to independence, to immunity from aggression and to support in recovery; but the involvement in specific projects or support for specific policies must be judged in specific terms; some projects deserve support, others not. The document says as the diversity of opinions within the Frelimo government becomes increasingly clear, and the multi-party option opens up, there will no simple guide to how solidarity should work; even more so should a Nicaragua-type scenario be played out over the next year. The document says finally, solidarity should not be contingent on the existence of a government or movement that embodies ideals (of socialism or justice defined in more general terms) that we support.
Used by permission of William Minter
Collection: Kathleen Sheldon Southern Africa Collection, Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections