People’s War: Military supplies during the Mozambican Civil War, 1976-1992
Keywords:FRELIMO, RENAMO, War, Villagers, Military, Logistics, Morale, Natural resources, Mozambique
From 1976 to 1992, the government of Mozambique under the leadership of Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) and Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO), the latter sponsored by the right-wing and racist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa went to war. The independence of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1980 and the signing of the Nkomati Non-aggression Pact between the government of Mozambique and South Africa in 1984 led scholars and government officials to claim that the government would win the war because RENAMO had lost its support. These claims proved wrong as RENAMO resisted for another eight years until the signing of the general peace agreement in 1992. The paper argues that the continuation of military confrontations shows that wars are mainly fought with a complex combination of means that are not necessarily military. Claiming that the survival of RENAMO depended on external support represents a misunderstanding of the logistics and morale of both RENAMO and government troops. It is from this perspective that this paper looks at the logistics and enthusiasm of both RENAMO and government military to demonstrate that both lacked adequate military logistics to wage war. It shows that the belligerents depended on civilians and surrounding natural resources to obtain the bulk of supplies of staple foods and recruits. This state of affairs compels scholars to rethink the nature of civil wars and helps to explain the almost decade long delay in achieving peace in Mozambique. It also shows that the burden of the Mozambican civil war fell on the shoulders of civilians. Thus, what is often described as a hotspot of Cold War in Southern Africa or a war of aggression by the apartheid regime was, in practice, a peoples’ war with devastating, yet varied impacts on peoples’ livelihoods.
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