Category Archives: South

African Peace Militaries War, Peace and Democratic Governance


About the Editor

David J. Francis is the most recent Head of Department of Peace Studies and is currently Director of the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS), at the University of Bradford, UK. He is author/editor of eight books, including US Strategy in Africa (ed. Routledge, 2010).


This book provides a critical understanding of the emerging role of African militaries in peacetime democratic Africa.

This book departs from the dominant perspective which simply presents the military as an ‘enemy’ of democracy because of the history and legacy of unending military coup d’états and interventions in civilian politics. In the context of Africa, the military has been blamed or largely held responsible for instigating wars, armed conflicts, political violence, poverty and underdevelopment due to bad governance and mismanagement of the state. Drawing from diverse case studies across Africa, including Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt, this volume presents the argument that though the military has played a negative, and sometimes, destructive role in undermining constitutional rule and the overthrow of democratic civilian governments, the same military, now operating in a changed global environment, is making effort to support the development of democracy and democratic consolidation as well as remain subjected to civilian democratic oversight and control. Notwithstanding, the real challenge for this emerging trend of African peace militaries is the extent to which they are able to fulfil, on a predictable and consistent basis, their constitutional mandate to defend the people against ‘elected autocrats’ in Africa who try to use the military to perpetuate themselves in power.

This work fills a critical gap in the literature and will be of much interest to students of African security and politics, peace and conflict studies, security studies and IR in general.

Table of Contents

1. African Militaries in War, Peace and Support for Democratic Development, David J. Francis

2. The Military in Nigeria: War, peace and support for democratic governance, Oshita Oshita

3. The Rwanda Defence Force: from Genocide to Peace and Democratic Consolidation, Marco Jowell

4. Military in Uganda: war, peace and support for democratic consolidation, Eric Awich Ochen

5. Military Response to Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria: Implications for Peace, Security and Democracy in the Lake Chad Basin, Kenneth C. Omeje

6. African Solutions to Western Problems: Western-sponsored Training Programmes for African Militaries: impact on Peace and Democratic Consolidation, David Chuter

7. African Standby Force: Challenges and Opportunities for support of Democracy in Africa, Kasaija Phillip Apuuli

8. African Militaries, Security Sector Reform and Peace Dividends: a case study of Ethiopia’s post-1998 Defence Reform Experience and impact on Democratic Development, Ann Fitz-Gerald, Paula MacPhee & Ian Westerman

9. Egypt: the Military in War, Peace and Democratic Development, Joseph Lansana Kormoh


Billy goes to Marikana: the staged lives and times of two mining towns


The author Alinah Kelo Segobye recently received funding from the Rotary Peace Centre, Peace Studies Department as a visiting scholar at the University of Bradford in 2016.
In this article she discusses and narrates the case and experiences of two mining towns.
Please find link to full article:

About the Author


Alinah Kelo Segobye has recently completed a term as visiting scholar at the Rotary Peace Centre, University of Bradford. She is an honorary professor at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), UNISA and former Deputy Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Segobye’s research includes Africa’s development, the archaeology of southern Africa, indigenous knowledge systems, heritage studies and HIV/AIDS. She has served as an advisor, facilitator and expert for a number of international organizations. She has authored and co-authored a number of essays and book chapters on themes including Africa’s development outlooks and the future of the past in Africa.

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

Tanzania Multi-party Politics and Poverty

[Image: CHADEMA-UKAWA rally in Dodoma]

Ananilea Nkya is a PhD researcher on media engagement with development, University of Bradford, UK. Before joining the university, she was Executive Director of Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) for 11 years. The organization advocates and promotes women’s human rights through the media.

Tanzania’s general elections will take place on October 25th. 

After 25 years of single party rule, Tanzania saw the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1992. General elections were conducted in five year intervals with the aim of putting into power political leadership that could end poverty among the majority of people. Poverty, along with ignorance and disease have been identified as key enemies of Tanzania since independence (Nyerere, 1979).

In 1995, Tanzania was among 117 countries that attended the World Summit on Social Development and adopted a global plan of action for eradicating poverty by 2015. The UN then defined absolute poverty as a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services (Gordon, 2005).

Unfortunately, after two decades of multi-party democracy and implementation of the global action plan poverty is still a prominent problem for the country’s growing population. The population has grown from 12.3 million people in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012 (Statistics and Office of Chief Government Statistian 2013).

Evidence of poverty in Tanzania includes poor child health due to lack of food. UN Tanzania 2014 Human Development Report, estimates that 35 per cent of children below the age five in the country were facing chronic malnutrition making the country one of the 28 poorest countries in the world (Guardian, 2015). A nutritionist from Tanzania central region of Dodoma region, Stella Kimambo observes that malnutrition is a disease because if child miss proper food nutrients during 270 days in the womb and 730 days after delivery it cuts intelligence quotient to between 10 to 15 and that the sickness could never be cured (Magubira, 2015).

Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania
Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania

Millions poor in midst of richness

Although millions of Tanzanians are currently languishing in poverty, it is one of Africa’s natural resource rich countries. In 2009 alone gold earned Tanzania four billion dollars compared to negligible foreign currency earned from the mining in 2000 (Mjimba, 2011). By 2010, Tanzania had joined South Africa and Ghana in becoming the three leading African countries exporters of gold (Coulson, 2013).

Tanzania also attracts foreign financial assistance for its annual budgets mainly from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, the European Commission and the World Bank. Thus, the question is: If in Tanzania huge sums of foreign monies arrive annually and multi-party politics supports governance checks and balances, why are the majority of citizens still poor?

Operating multi-party politics in single party framework

Tanzania adopted multi-party democracy, not by choice, but as an IMF loan condition. A situation shared by many states exposed to hegemonic Bretton Woods’ financial institutions following the developing countries debt crisis in the 1980s (Moyo, 2009). Samuel Makinda observed that multi-party democracy was expected to end authoritarian rule in Africa associated with ‘weaknesses in the structures and performance of public institutions’ (Makinda, 1996:555).

But has multi-party politics strengthened public institutions in Tanzania?

Realities on the ground suggest that a lot needs to be done. Jacques Morisset, a World Bank lead economist for Tanzania in July this year, observed that though some people in the country working in the informal sector earned huge amounts of money, the current level of tax revenues in the country was one of lowest in the world, Therefore ‘‘the problem reflected systemic issues in policy and administration’’ (Aman, 2015).

Not only does the government not collect taxes effectively but its agents also engage in thievery of public funds to accomplish party strategic goals in order to cling onto state power. In 2014, 306 billion shillings (about $204 million US dollars) were dubiously withdrawn from Tegeta escrow account in the Central Bank and no legal measures were taken against the high level public figures involved (Citizen, 2015). Indeed, grand corruption and thievery of public funds occurring in the last ten years saw Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and its government losing public credibility by being branded grand thief (fisadi) (Mtulya, 2015).

Arguably, thievery of public resources is taking a toll because the government re-introduced multi-party democracy before implementing recommendations by commission chaired by Judge Francis Nyalali mandating the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission and repealing of 40 laws undermining news media and political freedoms (Nyirabu, 2002).

As a result, four general elections were conducted, in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. CCM won with landslide victories in both presidential and parliamentary seats. For example, the 2010 elections saw the CCM winning the majority of seats in the parliament as the opposition won only 22 percent or 80 seats out of 357 seats (Coulson, 2013).

The main opposition party CHADEMA accused CCM of manipulating presidential votes (uchakachuaji), and demanded writing of a new constitution which among others, would establish an independent electoral commission before the 2015 elections. Unsurprisingly, it did not happen because although in 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete formed a Constitution Commission chaired by Judge Joseph Warioba which collected views from the citizens countrywide and prepared the Draft Constitution. However, CCM members who constituted more than 80 percent of Constitutional Assembly, refused to endorse the citizens Draft Constitution (Nkya, 2014),

CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters
CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters

Interestingly, CCM’s refusal to adopt the citizens’ Proposed New Constitution saw four opposition parties- CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi forming a Union of Citizens Constitution- Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) as a strategy to disrupt the power base of the CCM in elections.

Future possibility of ending poverty

This year’s elections have attracted national and international attention for a number of reasons. Firstly, UKAWA have filled single candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillorship posts. Secondly, two former Prime Ministers, Fredrick Sumaye and Edward Lowassa, a key CCM founder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, former Home Affairs minister Laurence Macha and ambassador Juma Mwapachu are among CCM members who so far have abandoned CCM and are for UKAWA campaign theme change (mabadiliko). Thirdly, arguably, citizens are tired of CCM empty promises.

Therefore, there is cut throat competition between CCM and CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidates as well as candidates in junior posts.

CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
 However, the possibility of eradicating of poverty in Tanzania in the near future depends on the winner of 25 October elections. This is because while CHADEMA under UKAWA manifesto indicates that the coalition will write a new constitution based on the citizens’ proposed constitution, the CCM manifesto contains nothing on the matter.

A new constitution among other developments, will establish an independent electoral commission for conducting free and fair elections. In this way any political party elected in future will work harder to accomplish its promises as well as avoiding corruption and thievery of public funds and resources (ufisadi); practices which undermine efforts to end poverty in Tanzania.


Aman, F. (2015) WB hits govt for poor revenue collection [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Citizen, T. (2015) Escrow saga still matters in donor help, says IMF [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:–says-IMF/-/1840392/2585310/-/eli8jb/-/index.html.

Coulson, A. (2013) Tanzania: a political economy. Oxford University Press.

Gordon, D. (2005) Indicators of Poverty & Hunger. In: Expert Group meeting on youth development indicators. pp. 12-14.

Guardian, T. (2015) Human Development Report has invaluable lessons for us [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Magubira, P. (2015) Malnutrition takes toll on TZ: expert [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen newspaper, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:–expert/-/1840340/2908366/-/xrvxr3/-/index.html.

Makinda, S. M. (1996) Democracy and multi-party politics in Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 34 (04), 555-573.

Mjimba, V. (2011) The nature and determinants of linkages in emerging minerals commodity sectors: a case study of gold mining in Tanzania. In: Unpublished working paper prepared for Making the Most of Commodities workshop.

Moyo, D. (2009) Dead aid: why aid makes things worse and how there is another way for Africa. London: Allen Lane.

Mtulya, A. (2015) How corruption rocked Kikwete’s govt in the past decade [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Nkya, A. (2014) ‘Proposed Constitution not people-centred, bears no 50-50 representation’ [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Nyerere, J. (1979) Freedom and development:The Tanzanian experience. In: Coulson, A. (Ed.) African socialism in practice. Spokesman, pp. 27-35.

Nyirabu, M. (2002) The multiparty reform process in Tanzania: The dominance of the ruling party. African Journal of Political Science, 7 (2), 99-112.

Statistics, N. B. o. and Office of Chief Government Statistian , Z. (2013) The 2012 Population and Housing Census:Population distribution by administrative units key findings. Dar es Salaam:


[Image credit: author's photo; beneficiaries of the fund that were victims of irregularities. The mill was broken at the time and they could not afford repairs.]

Roberta Holanda Maschietto has a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. Her research interests include the concept of empowerment and its operationalisation, in particular in peacebuilding contexts, as well as local subjectivities of peace and power.

In 2006 the government of Mozambique introduced for the first time a budget to be allocated to each one of the 128 districts in the country. At the time, the budget had a fixed value of seven million meticais (circa USD300,000), and was called the Local Initiative Investment Budget (Orçamento de Investimento de Iniciativa Local, OIIL), being popularised as the ‘7 Million’. In 2009, the budget was transformed into a fund, the District Development Fund, retaining nevertheless its popular name and core functions.

In a nutshell, the ‘7 Million’ resembles a micro-credit scheme. The fund that enters the district is supposed to be used in the form of credit concession to the poor strata of those economically. Its central objectives are job creation and food production in the districts. The ‘7 Million’ has furthermore a strong empowering appeal: not only does it aim to promote empowerment by investing in local producers who would otherwise not have access to credit, but it also works in connection with the local councils, who have an active role in deciding who will obtain the funding taking into consideration the local needs.

Beneficiaries of the fund: originally, they wanted to invest in wholesale but they changed to redirect the money to the shop they already had.
Beneficiaries of the fund: originally, they wanted to invest in wholesale but they changed to redirect the money to the shop they already had.

The local councils were formalised in 2005 and defined as ‘an organ of consultancy of the local administration authorities’. They should be constituted by prominent people in the communities, such as ‘community authorities, representatives of interests groups of economic, social and cultural nature’ in each territorial rank of the district (1). Whilst having a consultative status, when it comes to the ‘7 Million’ they are the ones entitled to select the projects that will obtain the credit, as they are deemed to know better the needs of the community. Therefore, their inclusion in the process is what guarantees that the process is ‘bottom-up’ and representative of local interests.

In practice, the ‘7 million’ became one of the main political banners of President Guebuza, who referred to it as the ‘Mozambican economic paradigm’ (2). In his speeches, he portrayed the ‘7 million’ as nearly a panacea thanks to which local development has taken place, food production has increased, local communities have been integrated with the national market, jobs have been created, and poverty has been reduced (3). The initiative has even been praised by the African Peer Review Mechanism and portrayed as an example to be followed by other African countries (4). An in depth analysis of the district of Angoche, located in the northern province of Nampula, however, casts doubts about such a successful propaganda.

Focus group with some in the community
Focus group with women in the community

First, the understanding that the local councils are ‘representative of the local communities’ is very problematic. In 2011 there was a big process of reconstitution of the local councils. In Angoche, the process was followed by the district’s technical commission, who was in charge of guaranteeing its transparency and inclusiveness. In practice, many people in the communities admitted not taking part of the selection process — some did not even know about it. Many who did take part, including chosen members of the councils further referred to a ‘pre-selection’ phase where the ‘eligible people’ to the councils — to be voted by the people — were previously selected by a local traditional authority (usually the régulo), contrary to what should have taken place. Furthermore, in some cases, there were reports that members of the opposition ‘refused to take part’ of the selection process. In one case, a member of the technical team admitted they had to re-schedule a new selection process in one of the localities precisely because of the issue of inclusiveness. However, in other cases where reports of bias were reported, nothing was done to correct the process or verify it further.

Besides the problems related to the selection process, many participants in the communities observed that their interaction with the members of the local councils was very weak, or simply did not take place. This was particularly so in the case of women. Some individuals also manifested a feeling of ‘separateness’, as the local councils were portrayed as linked ‘with the structure’, instead of a body that represents the community.

When the ‘7 Million’ was considered, these critical perceptions were often magnified, as many beneficiaries — and people who had attempted unsuccessfully to obtain the fund — reported acts of bribery involving members of the local councils, as well as local authorities. There were also reports of political discrimination, exchange of values and projects inside the council, and, before 2009 — when the fund was disbursed in goods — overpriced products.

Focus group with some in the community
Mixed focus group with the community

Contrary to the positive numbers available in the administration, many of the projects funded by the ‘7 Million’ were found to be ineffective, incomplete, sometimes completely different from the original, and at times also failed. One of the reasons for this was the fact that more often than not beneficiaries obtained a much smaller loan than the one requested. According to members of the local councils, this happened because the fund available is not that big once it is split across the district’s sub-units, and they feel that it is preferable to chose more projects with a small amount (be inclusive) than select few projects with a big amount — even though the latter would be the only way for a project to generate jobs.

Ultimately, the limited success of the ‘7 Million’ is reflected in the very low return rate, which in Angoche, between 2007-2013, stayed at only 4.5%. Yet, the official discourse tends to minimise this issue, noticing that many projects take time (2-3 years) to generate profit. At the same time, the problematic estimates of jobs created are widely publicised, even when there is not long-term and continuous checking if those jobs planned in the project still exist.

It could be argued that Angoche is a very specific case where things did not go so well. Yet, data obtained from the districts of Mogovolas and Moma showed similar problems. Monitoring reports from Center of Democracy and Development Studies (CEDE) regarding other districts also noted the problem of the projects’ sustainability. Finally, one of the rare in depth studies on the matter in the districts of Gorongosa, Monapo and Zavala also cast away any reason for optimism regarding the results of the ‘7 Million’ (5).

The fact that these problems are minimised in the discourse is nothing out of ordinary, as much as politics is concerned. What is worrying is the fact that very little has been done to address these problems. One of the major constraints, in this regard, is the lack of resources to invest in regular monitoring visits and capacity building of all actors engaged in the implementation of the ‘7 Million’. Also, so far there is no proper mechanism for complaint, redress and accountability, which indirectly stimulates the situation to continue as it is. Ultimately, part of the propaganda of the ‘7 Million’ is related to the agenda of decentralisation in Mozambique — giving power to the districts and empowering the local councils. Yet, if these problems are not addressed, they may simply contribute to enhance and further legitimate centralising tendencies at the local level, while disguising them as part of the decentralisation process.


1. Republic of Mozambique. Council of Ministers (2005) Decree No. 11/2005, Regulação da Lei dos Órgãos Locais de Estado (RELOLE). Boletim da República, I Série, No. 23, 2nd Supplemento. Maputo, 10 June.

2. AIM (26 Sep. 2013) Universidade de Columbia: PR Guebuza profere palestra sobre o desenvolvimento rural de Moçambique. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 2 June 2014).

3. Guebuza, A. E. (2009) O Combate contra a Pobreza: Concentrando nossas Ações no Distrito. State of the Nation. Maputo, 22 June; Guebuza, A. E. (2009) Os Sete Milhões – Seu Papel na Promoção da Boa Governação e do Desenvolvimento Endógeno. Guebuza’s blog. Available at: (Accessed: 15 May 2014).

4. AIM (30 Jan. 2014) MARP considera fundo dos “sete milhões” um exemplo para África. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 23 June 2014).

5. Orre, A. & Forquilha, S.C. 2012. ‘Uma iniciativa condenada ao fracasso. o fundo distrital dos 7 milhões e suas consequências para a governação em Moçambique’, in B. Weimer, org. Moçambique: descentralizar o centralismo. economia política, recursos e resultados. Maputo: IESE, 168-196.

Forgotten and Not Forgiven: Angola’s Violent Past

[Image credit: Sambizanga, Luanda province, the hub of resistance to MPLA leader Agostinho Neto; it this district that saw the most froce of military and Cuban response to the coup]

In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre, by Lara Pawson (IB Tauris, 2014)

Evein the namery country has its “skeletons in the closet”. Sometimes those skeletons are aired and form the substance of public or international discourse, and (rarely) some are transcended, but many are simply kept in hiding. According to Lara Pawson the 1977 coup/failed revolution is one such hidden event in Angola’s history.

The book’s protagonists’ offer multiple descriptions of this event necessarily conveying the contested nature of what happened on May 27th 1997, or as it is more commonly known, vinte e sete. Pawson, now a freelance journalist, earned her stripes as a BBC correspondent in Angola during the 1990s. But since then she has been following breadcrumbs of confusion and woe that have led her to vinte e sete. What is perhaps most “shocking” about the account is not the lack of historicization, but the swift and ruthless swinging of Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) coercive, biopower in defense of its monopoly of “revolution”.

Pawson reconstructs vinte e sete with a parade of characters across a spectrum of events: the possibly guilty extolling their ignorance and regret at others’ actions, and the now widowed living with grief and suspicion still decades later, even leftist writers and journalists, once supportive of the MPLA are cast as hiding something. The latter apparently knowing too much to betray their ideological allegiance to the “successful” MPLA revolution.

Intriguingly, many protagonists cast these events in the light of postcolonial racial tension. Nito Alves, the disgraced deputy to the MPLA leader Agostinho Neto, drew to him an apparent mixture of Soviet sympathizers, disaffected lower ranks, and black, rural Angolans. Nito was thus accused of fomenting anti-white and anti-mestiço racism. Throughout one hears echoes of scholars like Mbembe and Mamdani who have underscored the challenge of moving past the colonial (racial/ethnic) divisions bred into the postcolonial state: it appears Angola is no different.

Those loyal to the dissatisfaction expressed by Nito and frustrated by the fraudulent puppet Neto (supposedly controlled by the ruling mestiço class and the Cubans. who had been flooding the country as professional and armed soldiers) stormed the capital’s radio station and took up other key positions in Luanda. Within 24 hours this “factionalist” coup, rebellion, or whatever, was crushed by MPLA troops, tanks, and most notably the stockpiled Cubans ready to combat counterinsurgency against the revolution. Pawson, unable to put a finger on the numbers of those arrests, tortured, disappeared, or simply executed, offers her protagonists’ claims that were in the thousands.

The real Nito Alves? This young man was arrested in connection with multiple involvements in protests against President Dos Santos and the forgetting of vinte e sete.
The real Nito Alves? This young man was arrested in connection with multiple involvements in protests against President Dos Santos and the forgetting of vinte e sete.

What remains now is a cast of characters affected in some way or another by a history of postcolonial counterinsurgency violence, in the name of socialism, most willing to live with the past, without conceptualizing it, or speaking of it. Speaking truth to power, perhaps, as the underlying modus operandi of this book, seems to be a frustrated mantra. Frustrated by the responding silence of oppression.

Post Script

I recently spoke with some friends from Angola, living here in Europe, and they expressed a similar acknowledgement of silence and suppression of this history. And perhaps, as most living in a diaspora, or those willingly away from home, as frustration about the janus-faced nature of Angola as a “good” African country that is defined by political power that is corrupt and far reaching. No one wants to speak about this, they claimed, and Pawson’s book is the only attempt, so far, that captures this feeling and history.

Further Reading:

Africa is a Country, ‘The Battle over the 27th of May in Angola’.

Pawson, ‘Nito Alves: the teenage incarnation of resistance in Angola,’ Guardian.

Peace, Violence as Politics, and Elections in Mozambique

By Roberta Holanda Maschietto

On October 15, 48.68% of total registered Mozambicans went to the polls to take part of the country’s fifth general elections since the signing of a peace agreements in 1992. The final counting results were presented on October 30, after a recounting of 754,113 ballot papers considered invalid at pooling stations, and of which 174,164 were reconsidered valid. According to the data released, which also resembled numbers obtained in a parallel count, Frelimo’s candidate, Felipe Nyusi, won with 57% of the total valid votes; Renamo’s leader Dhlakama got second with 36.61%; whereas MDM candidate Daviz Simango obtained 6.36% of the votes. In parliament, Frelimo lost leverage compared to 2009, obtaining 144 seats, against 89 for Renamo and 17 for MDM. As for the provincial parliaments, Frelimo won 485 seats, Renamo 295 and MDM 31 (CIP/AWEPA, NE-74).

Both Renamo and MDM have rejected the results, pointing to the several irregularities that took place on the elections’ day and during the counting process. These acts included suspected ballot box stuffing, conflicting numbers of results sheets, as well as opposition ballots improperly made invalid by polling station staff (ibid.). The Carter Center and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), which had 87 observes deployed during the elections day noted that, in spite of the general calm atmosphere (and with due exception of sporadic episodes of violence), in several instances the observes did not have proper access to all the phases of the process. They also acknowledged lack of clarity regarding the technical procedures for the elections, including in the counting phase (Notícias, 29 Oct. 2014). As the results have just been released the situation is still sensitive, as Renamo has presented its own counting leading to a very different outcome. The situation does not contribute to what has been a very tense year in Mozambique.

Indeed, the year and a half leading to the elections was perhaps one of the politically tense in the country, since the peace negotiations. In April 2012, clashes between Renamo ex-combatants, Dhlakama’s ‘Presidential Guard’, and the government riot police took place in Nampula, then residence of the Renamo’s leader. In October 2012, Dhlakama moved to Gorongosa, where Renamo held its base during war times, making threats of resuming the war and dividing the country in two, and urging a revision of the peace accords (@ Verdade, 18 Oct. 2012). In 2013, reacting to the electoral law approved in December 2012, Renamo started to engage in a series of activities, which included: ambushes on cars, lorries and buses, as well as military convoys (AIM, 26 Feb. 2014b); the blocking of one of the main transport arteries of the country; and the boycott of the 2013 municipal elections, leading to Renamo’s further political isolation. Frelimo initially responded resorting to military power in order to contain the actions (Canalmoz, 11 Feb. 2014), but at the same time it pushed for negotiations, emphasising a conciliatory speech and the primacy of peace. To the surprise of several observers, Renamo’s strategy ultimately proved efficient and by February 2014 an agreements was reached regarding the change of the electoral law.

According to the 2012 electoral law, the National Elections Commission (NEC), in charge of organising the elections, would be constituted by 5 members of Frelimo, two from Renamo, and one from MDM, three nominees of civil society organisations, a judge appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistrature, and an attorney appointed by the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, totalling 13 members. Renamo fiercely opposed the law, pushing for parity between the number of members of Frelimo and Renamo in that body. The law at the time was already criticised by observers, due to the NEC’s politicisation, but the 2014 change was an even bigger disappointment. First, the deal between Renamo and Frelimo increased the number of members to 17, of which 5 would be from Frelimo, 4 from Renamo, 1 from MDM and the remaining 5 from civil society — therefore excluding the attorney and further politicising the body. Second, the deal included the reformulation of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the executive body responsible for implementing the elections, which now would also include political appointees. Finally, the deal was ‘agreed’ without previous consultation to the National Assembly, only later submitted for approval in a context of the urgent ‘spirit of reconciliation’, which, ultimately led to the concession of most of Renamo’s requests.

As noted by journalist Paul Fauvet, a long-term observer of Mozambique’s politics, “This destroys any hope of independent electoral bodies, rips up the electoral legislation passed by democratic vote in the Assembly in December 2012, and is a graphic reminder that when a political party loses in a vote, it can achieve what it wants through murder and mayhem”. Similar comments echoed in the press, to the point where Dhlakama’s actions were portrayed as a smart and efficient political move, in fact more efficient than when he tried to play ‘the respectable politician’, and won only 16.41% of the votes in 2009 (Allison, 2014).

It should be noted that the revision of the electoral law was only one of Dhlakama’s demands in order to stop the attacks. Other important issues included his demand for greater representation of Renamo in state institutions, in particular the armed forces and that Renamo be granted a more equitable share of the country’s natural resources. In this regard, a new peace agreement was signed in September.

In spite of a ‘victory’ in what was, after all, the first revision of the peace accords in 20 years, Renamo, more specifically, Dhlakama, stayed far behind in the votes counting. Whilst performing better than the 2009 elections, and even taking into account the series of irregularities that took place during the elections, the results suggest that the majority of Mozambicans are not yet convinced of the ex-rebel leaders abilities as a politician to rule the country (and would they, after he resumed violence?). After all, in spite of rampant poverty, Mozambique’s economy is growing, investors are coming in, and over ‘7 million’ meticais are reaching the over 128 rural districts every year since 2006, for the first time allowing many poor people to have access to credit. Additionally, and in spite of Dhlakama’s claims (once more) of his role in bringing peace to the country, president Guebuza was also credited for the peace deal revisions and his ability to avoid the escalation of conflict (Low-Vaudran, 2014), which partly also contributed to strengthen people’s confidence in Frelimo.

How to assess these elections and its contribution for the country’s peace and stability remains an open subject, as the elections’ results have just being released and yet many irregularities are still under investigation. The events that precede the elections however clearly point to the fact that democracy in Mozambique is not yet the only game in town, and, even though Renamo may not have resources to engage into a full scale war, it can still seriously obstruct the country’s functioning and scare investors, therefore compromising the benefits brought by peace.

At the same time, and whereas Renamo’s acts were an important reminder that the peace dividend needs to be reassessed, unfortunately this reassessment did not consider the vast majority of Mozambicans. Instead, it was clearly focused on Renamo’s and its old comrades’ share of the deal. Whereas peace as non-violence is indeed a treasure to be cherished, peace as substantial change of power is by far a more complicated process and it is a wonder if it could always be achieved by non-violent means.


@ Verdade (18 Out. 2012). Dhlakama ameaça voltar à Guerra. Available at:, accessed: 03 Apr. 2014.

AIM (12 Feb. 2014). Mozambique: Government Agrees to Politicise STAE. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014.

AIM (26 Feb. 2014a). Assembly Passes Renamo Amendments On General Elections. Available at:, accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

AIM (26 Feb. 2014b). Renamo Attacks Military Convoy in Gorongosa. Available at:, accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

AIM (6 Mar. 2014). Renamo Revives Call for Foreign Mediation. Available at:, acessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

AIM, (11 Feb. 2014). Mozambique: Government and Renamo Agree on Larger, Politicised CNE. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014.

Allison, Simon (21 Oct. 2014). Think Again: Renamo’s Renaissance, and Civil War as Election Strategy. Institute of Strategic Studies. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014.

CanalMoz (11 Feb. 2014). Renamo diz que a paz está ameaçada. Available at:, accessed: 04 Apr. 2014.

CIP/AWEPA (30 Oct. 2014) Mozambique Political Process Bulletin, Number NE-74, 2014 National Elections.

Fauvet, Paul (19 Feb. 2014). Assembly Sitting Begins, With Election Laws Top of Agenda, AIM. Available at:, accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

Louw-Vaudran, Liesl (13 Oct. 2014). Investors hold their breath as Mozambique votes. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014

Notícias (29 Oct. 2014). Partidos políticos devem respeitar processo eleitoral – exorta o Carter Center. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014.

Paul Fauvet (20 February 2014). Renamo Proposals Go Beyond Agreement With Government. AIM, available at: . Accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

Democratisation under duress: Mozambique’s belligerent peace now

The author Anícia Lalá is a doctoral research candidate in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.

“The Peace we live makes us an example for Africa and the World.  The principle that the only alternative to peace is peace itself is assumed by all and each of us, in words and acts” H.E. Armando Emílio Guebuza

The elusiveness of these almost iconic words proffered by Mozambique’s Head of State, Armando Guebuza, on his address to the Mozambican Parliament in 2007, has been nothing but highlighted during his ruling period.  The spiraling of tensions began around March 2012, with an unswerving show of force between the Frelimo Government (GoM) and the main opposition party with parliamentary representation, Renamo, resulting in subsequent criminal violence acts and open military hostilities in the Gorongosa district, since April 2013.  Ever since, and in particular after the GoM military action against the premises of the leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, in Satungira in August 2013, insecurity settled in the surrounding areas.  There have been civilian and military casualties, and Renamo’s armed men with blockage of the main national road disrupted economic activities.

Failure to achieve political solutions for the differences at stake showed that ironically neither Guebuza nor Dhlakama, who both played crucial roles in the accomplishment of Mozambique’s General Peace Agreement (GPA) in 1992, lived-up to their reiterated promises of peace beyond volatile public speeches and deceitful negotiations.  At first sight such a state of affairs reflects the controlling power and bellicose characteristics of both leaders; yet there is more to learn from placing these events in the context of the contested processes of democratisation, economic liberalisation, and the onset of exploration of profitable natural resources in Mozambique.

Current military instability, even if circumscribed to delimited territorial areas, broke Mozambique’s spell of peace and growth success to the world outside, indicating a fall into the conflict, security and development traps that affect most African post-conflict and/or post-authoritarian developing countries.  However, the more attentive know Mozambique has been experiencing a rotten peace, characterised by flaws common to other post-conflict liberal peace environments, including persistent poverty, rampant corruption, growing inequality, unlawful capital accumulation by the elite, belligerent politics, expansion of national organised and transnational crime, and a weak justice system.

The setback would not have come with the accompanied level of dismay, had this not been the African country where, after independence, the Frelimo ruling party genuinely upheld a nation-state building project (not without flaws), now fully replaced by its converse and unscrupulous project of wealth accumulation by the elite.

In addition, the shock stems from the dramatic change to Mozambique’s status as an icon of conflict resolution of the 90s, where the successful implementation of the peace process was overrated despite important flaws concerning disarmament, demilitarisation and transitional justice processes.  Granted that the implementation of peace processes has limits as to what can be achieved in restricted periods of time, it was assumed that the mechanisms of the newly created democratic institutions would take care of flaws such as reconciliation and trust building between former warring political elites, which in turn would allow the resolution of the remaining and future problems.  Indeed, despite the absence of elite reconciliation during the first post-conflict decade, negotiated solutions for disputes were arrived at through institutional mechanisms and/or informal political dialogue.

Back then greater balance existed between Frelimo and Renamo representation in politics, however, as time evolved Renamo and other opposition parties increasingly lost space.  In tandem, Mozambique’s democratic mechanisms such as the parliament and electoral institutions started to experience the limits of their poor design for a nascent democracy, and the manipulation of their weaknesses by growing and unchecked power-politics dynamics.  In addition, the solutions arrived at through informal political dialogue began to fall short because of their ad-hoc and localised problem-solving nature and their over-reliance on the pre-conditions of political will and leadership flexibility to compromise.

The frailty of both formal and informal arrangements has been underscored since the coming into power of Frelimo’s stalwart Armando Guebuza as the President of the country, whose resounding re-election in 2009 evidenced the growing closing of Mozambique’s democratic space.  The lack of political will towards meaningful dialogue with an increasingly weak opposition built-up and was boosted by hardliners within the Frelimo party, reflecting also a period of restrained internal party debate and self-criticism.  This translated into the GoM’s diminished openness to accommodate the needs and demands not only of Renamo, but also of the wider political opposition and society.  It has also developed resistance to incorporate advice especially as regards transparency in the management of state affairs and resources, growing inequality and improved democratic governance.

Alongside these developments, Renamo’s own internal party’s democratic shortcomings magnified with the mounting loss of formal institutional representation and a dearth of economic resources, leading it to engage in cavalier approaches like the carrying-out of criminally violent acts as a means to regain political relevance and force the Frelimo GoM to negotiate.

Renamo has a historical record of having been ‘bought’ into signing the GPA[1], given that it received significant financial resources to transform itself from a guerrilla movement into a political party, something that it achieved with critical shortcomings[2] [3].

Along this line of thinking prominent authors on Mozambique such as Hanlon[4] and Cardoso[5] placed Renamo’s financial expectation of receiving shares and profits from the natural resource exploration as the main driving factor for carrying out the armed actions.

Whilst this is certainly one of the main motivations as admitted by Renamo, that line of analysis warrants more balance with the fact that Renamo was not alone in receiving significant financial inducements for the achievement of peace.  The Frelimo GoM was equally compensated with massive inflows of donor aid over the years, and rewarded with their overlook of rampant corruption and illicit accumulation of capital by Frelimo party members and their networks as Hanlon’s earlier work denounced[6].

Hence, a ‘greed-based’ examination requires strong emphasis on both sides equally wanting to access and control the state for accumulation purposes.  Founding an analysis of the recent situation mostly on scrutiny of Renamo’s development as a political party, and emphasising ‘greed’ as Renamo’s main motivation leads to a benign neglect of the Frelimo GoM behavior.  In turn, this is conducive to inducing the reader into concluding that Renamo is a rogue party to be erradicated, if need be through the use of military force; a position that undermines the consolidation of democracy in Mozambique.

The kind of multi-factor analysis that avoids such polarised readings is missing from Vines’[7] article and is unbalanced in Hanlon’s recent commentary, although the latter refers the need to analyse the recent skirmishes in light of a broader post-war history context[8].  In the case of Vines, it appears that his article was written with a different objective than to mainly explain the current situation, and simply added analysis of recent developments at the end.  In the case of Hanlon, hopefully the uneveness in the weight awarded to the different analytical factors was a function of other criteria, and not because of his belief in the apropriateness of the actions of the current Frelimo elite in power, which he labelled ‘developmentalist’. That was in contrast to the previous Frelimo wing in power that he considered ‘predatory’[9].  However, even this scrutiny can be considered reductinionist since the ‘predatory’ elite could also be viewed as reformist, peace-oriented and pro-democratic, in comparison with the ‘developmentalist’ which could be tagged as conservative, belligerent and pro-authoritarian.  More importantly, these dichotomies overshadow complex internal Frelimo party dynamics, including the undeclared alliances made by the different wings, and their mutual responsibility derived from covering-up for each other when ultimate goals are at stake, thus far preventing the party from splintering in acute crisis moments.

In these circumstances, it is crucial to balance analysis by robustly scrutinising the relevance of the points raised by Renamo, and which constitute also a matter of concern for the wider Mozambican society that is overlooked in most analyses. These concern not only the lack of redistribution of the country’s revenues in a meaningful manner, but also a contested electoral system, and a general unbalanced political-economic and patronage system, excessively favourable to the maintenance of Frelimo in power.  In addition, apprehension with escalating Frelimo’s partisanship of the state civil service is real, representing a regression when compared with the orientation during the post-peace agreement decade.  Finally, the partisanship of the defence and security forces, which has been always claimed by Renamo and used by this party to justify its own unlawful retention of armed men is gaining new negative contours.  These are overly identified and recurrent problems that acquired additional tract in the last decade.  If left unaddressed, or in continuing masquerade they are likely to combine with unfortunate happenstance to disrupt Mozambique’s democratisation to the point of no return, until major upheaval takes place to dislodge the general growing environment of intolerance and authoritarianism.

Despite the seriousness of these issues, the criminal attacks used by Renamo to ‘bend’ the Frelimo GoM into negotiating are illegitimate and unacceptable in the context of the build-up of a peaceful democracy.  Yet, in the same vein, the military response engaged in by the Frelimo GoM demonstrated a nearly equivalent level of irresponsibility, displaying an oblivious lack of concern for the loss of human life, people’s livelihoods and the negative economic impact.  It was expected that a mature Frelimo GoM, with no lack of access to different types of historical examination and economic, political and security situational analysis, as well as multiple scenario building, would have acted differently.  Post-conflict Renamo has never been a total spoiler of peace requiring a coercive military strategy response, thus engagement in meaningful dialogue from an earlier stage was likely to have prevented the escalation of events.  On a subsequent moment, and even if from a realist perspective a limited show of force by the GoM had been justified to level the playing-field of negotiations, it would have occurred from a more legitimate stance in the eyes of Mozambicans, if previously genuine dialogue had been given a chance.

The factual occurences and scenarios of development of the conflict were convincingly argued by Cardoso[10], but an analysis of Frelimo’s aims were lacking.  It is therefore justifiable to question why Renamo’s first criminal attacks to civilian vehicles[11] and the retaining, re-gathering and training of armed men[12] [13] were not dealt with through legal justice means and criminal investigation.

Two plausible explanations can be advanced.  The first is that given the defficient condition of the judiciary and the existence of laws amenable to overmanipulation by astute lawyers, the Frelimo GoM fearing poor results in terms of Renamo accountability for these acts circumvented this course of action (which could nonetheless have been initiated by the General Attorney’s Office).  Hence, the Frelimo GoM might have preferred Renamo to bear political and military responsibility instead of criminal, therefore aiming to inflict on it a heavier reputational dammage.

The second explanation revolves around the Frelimo GoM choosing not to play a zero-sum game by refraining from using Constitutional provisions that criminalise the use of illegal armed action by political parties to outlaw Renamo.  On the one hand, it is probable that it believed this would raise the stakes by risking heavier societal and donor pressure upon itself.  On the other hand, it knew it served Frelimo’s purpose to promote a fragmented opposition rather than annihilate Renamo, risking the gravitation of its votes onto the promising Movimento Democrático de Moçambique (MDM) party.

It also needs to be factored that the timing of military action whilst impelled by the sequence of events between Renamo action and GoM counteraction, was not totally estranged from wider political developments, including the fact that local municipal elections were to take place in November 2013.  The patrolling with military armored vehicles of cities like Quelimane and Beira where the MDM had previously won ruling mandates created an intimidatory environment.  This was further highlighted by arbitrary arrests of MDM representatives alocated to voting stations[14] and violent police clashes with opposition party supporters resulting in severe injuries[15] and deaths[16] , which casted a dark shadow over free and fair elections in these places.

Hence, the climate of armed conflict was complemented by an overall rise in political violence and by a posture of force demonstration and intimidation adopted by the Frelimo GoM.  In addition, there were alleged pronunciations by senior Frelimo leaders inciting to violence and praising return to a one-party state in electoral rallies[17] [18].  These unfortunate developments together with the electoral irregularities and fraud that occurred in certain areas, revealed a growing level of political insecurity by Frelimo[19].

Frelimo’s electoral results have suggested throughout time that the party’s majority is difficult to break, even with growing urban opposition results, hence the use of intimidation tactics seemed dispensable and counterproductive.  In fact, the unintended consequence of the GoM militarised posture combined with Renamo’s withdrawal from the municipal elections rendered the MDM a consolidation of political space by wining in three major cities, Beira, Quelimane and Nampula, and gaining considerable seats in municipal assemblies throughout the country.

The insecurity displayed by Frelimo inevitably leads to questioning the centralised, militarised and closed nature of the current wing in power, and the setbacks suffered during this last GoM mandate suggest that the model of a one-strongman centralised government is outdated and unsuitable for a multicultural Mozambique.

Frelimo’s candidate to run in the upcoming general elections will soon be chosen.  The controversy around this process is finally steering a serious and now vocal internal contestation around the ways in which the country is being managed and party business is allegedly being mishandled[20].  Regardless of eventual internal party adjustments it is not sufficient that the chosen candidate represents a newer generation of leadership.  As has been observable, many people from within younger Frelimo generations tend to be more backward thinking and vacant minds that agree uncritically to higher-level decisions, in comparison to many of those that belong to the older generations.  The upcoming leader needs to be forward-looking, sensible and politically apt to secure political capital inside and outside the party, so as to earn the ability to think and act his own mind.  The challenge is about capacity to deliver on a clear and realistic government project to win people’s hearts and minds, as opposed to relying on political instrumentalisation, economic patronage and intimidation tactics.  It requires strong leadership and vision, as well as humbleness to serve and to bind together the country’s diversity and divergences through means of dialogue and tolerance beyond mere discursive practice.

Mozambicans appear to be learning the importance of the ‘vote for democracy’ and to be drawing conclusions about the type of governance they experience when a party wins with qualified majorities, regardless of the freedom and fairness of the electoral processes.  With the country poised for presidential and legislative elections towards the end of 2014, the spiral of political tension and confrontation is likely to rise in the months preceding elections, so the stakes are high for the Frelimo GoM to control unwarranted intimidating behaviour from state security institutions, and for electoral institutions to ensure, as much as possible, within their mandate, an environment of free and fair elections.

Recent incursions carried-out by Renamo’s armed men into the provinces of Nampula and Inhambane, as well as their reported appearance in the province of Tete seem to have pressed the Frelimo GoM back into the mode of negotiations, at least for the immediate moment.

The expansion of Renamo’s armed men into provinces other than Sofala became a signpost to the Frelimo GoM, as this is how Renamo’s activity began to spread during the ‘civil war’.  Also, Renamo armed men chose to appear in symbolic places like Homoíne in the province of Inhambane, where it launched a massacre during the civil war, as a way of reviving the trauma in people’s minds.  Tete is a strategic province where coal minefields are explored and therefore, taking military risks in this area would be highly damaging to the GoM and to Mozambique’s economy.  Whilst Renamo is not likely to have resources or support for sustained action throughout a long period, a few occasional attacks would be enough to foster strong perceptions of instability.  Furthermore, the current record of armed clashes with the Mozambican armed forces evidences the unpreparedness of the latter to deal with internal guerrilla-type threats.  A plausible question, yet beyond the scope of this analysis, is whether it should have been deployed in the first place, and if so, with which units, and under which type of military orders.

Other possible contributing factors for this change of posture by the GoM are growing criticism from within the Frelimo party, allied to concerns by donors and major investors.  Renamo also deflected from its belligerent attitude and returned to the table of negotiations.  Yet, neither side has officially renounced the use of armed violence, which should be a priority, from the point of view of regularising the lives of the populations and economic activity.  Hopefully this will not fall prey to tactical games by the parties as occurred during the Rome peace negotiations (1990-1992).   It is well over time that the Frelimo GoM realise that its earlier failure to engage in genuine dialogue landed it into now unavoidable negotiations, no matter the designation, and that now it engages with seriousness.  Also, Renamo needs to participate meaningfully as opposed to making unrealistic demands that perpetuate status quo, thereby stalling possibilities for progress, which will ultimately result in alienating its remaining legitimacy.

[5]Mozambique: A New Civil War, Noref Oct2013, p.2

[10] Mozambique: A New Civil War, Noref Oct2013, p.2

[20] “Mozambique News Reports & Clippings” 29/01/2014, See