Mozambique Defense and Foreign Policy

mozambique military spending and defense budget

Foreign policy and defense

Mozambique is a nation in Eastern Africa. Its capital city is Maputo. Mozambique gives priority to regional relations, and the relationship with South Africa is crucial for the country. The socialist Frelimo regime’s previous close contacts with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe ended with the collapse of communism in the late 1980s. Nowadays, contacts with the western world are good.

mozambique military spending and defense budget

During the first years after the independence of the colonial power Portugal in 1975, Mozambique’s foreign policy was characterized by close contacts with the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although the country was officially alliance free. Mozambique signed a friendship and cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union in 1977, while relations with the Western world, especially the United States, deteriorated.

Following the collapse of the communist eastern bloc in the late 1980s, the communist Frelimo regime was forced to implement a series of political and economic reforms to regain the confidence of the western world. In 1984, Mozambique became a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Relations with Western aid donors have since been important (see Economic overview), and Mozambique is often seen in the outside world as a model for reconstruction after war and conflict.

Mozambique has prioritized regional relations and was the driving force in the formation of the regional cooperation organization SADCC in 1980, now the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The country is also an active member of the African Union (AU).

Having good relations with South Africa’s largest trading partner is important for Mozambique. Brutal expulsions in South Africa of Mozambicans illegally staying in the country have at times been a strain on relations.

After Mozambique’s independence in 1975, the next state of war prevailed between the new nation and the South African apartheid regime, especially when South Africa became the main backer of the Renamogerillan in the early 1980s (see Modern history). When Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994, relations improved, and they were further strengthened by the marriage between Mandela and Gra├ža Machel, widow of Mozambique’s former President Samora Machel. Today, Mozambique collaborates with, among others, South Africa to fight pirates who hijack offshore vessels.

Mozambique has traditionally had close relationships with Zimbabwe and Angola. The relationship with Malawi was tense when the regime there supported the Renamogerillan until 1977. Thereafter relations improved. However, in the early 2010s, the countries were involved in a dispute over Malawi’s right to use the Zambezi River, which runs through Mozambique, as a transport link for vessels en route to Malawi.

Portugal has cultural exchange and trade with Mozambique and also invests in the country. China has also become a major investor and trading partner during the 2000s. Other major investors with whom Mozambique cultivated good relations are India, Brazil and Japan.

The exchange with Russia is still modest so far, but the Russian oil company Rosneft has shown interest in joining and extracting gas deposits in northern Mozambique.


Army: 10,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 200 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.8 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 2.5 percent (2017)



The Dhlakama election appeal is rejected

The Supreme Court rejects Dhlakama’s appeal of the election result and declares that Lungu won the election.

Abortion is legalized

Parliament adopts a law that makes it legal to undergo abortion until the twelfth week. When it comes to a pregnancy as a result of rape or where the mother’s life is in danger, the time is extended to 16 weeks. The new law is awakened by organizations that fight for women’s rights. Previously, abortion was prohibited, and illegal abortions have been a common cause of death.

Nacala Airport is inaugurated

A new international airport is inaugurated in the city of Nacala in the north of the country. The airport will be used for coal exports.

The President reaches out to Dhlakama

President Guebuza extends an olive branch to Dhlakama by approving a law that guarantees the opposition leader special status with his own official residence, office and staff. Dhlakama rejects the offer and says he will not be bribed.


Dhlakama calls for joint government

Dhlakama claims that Frelimo won by cheating and demands that Frelimo and Renamo form a joint “transitional government”.

Setback for Frelimo

At the same time as the presidential election, parliamentary elections are held. Frelimo retains its majority but declines sharply and loses almost 50 seats while Renamo and MDM win terrain.

55-year-old Nyusi is elected president

The 55-year-old Nyusi was a relatively unknown politician prior to his candidacy for the post. He had trained as an engineer in the Czech Republic and the UK and started his career in the state railway company. In 2008, he had been appointed by Guebuza as Minister of Defense. He is the first president who did not participate in the war for independence from Portugal (see Modern History) and the first who does not come from the southern part of the country. Nyusi has promised to continue the policy of his representative.

Nyusi’s profit is accused of cheating

Renamo claims that Nyusi’s predicted profit is due to cheating and claims that it is actually Dhlakama who is the winner. MDM also talks about electoral fraud and says the party will appeal the result. The regional cooperation organization SADC claims that some irregularities have occurred, but believes that this has not affected the result. By and large, the election is considered free and fair.

Success for Renamo in the election

After all, the election is a setback for Frelimo and a success for Renamo. Dhlakama now managed to double its voting share compared to the 2009 election, while Nyusi’s figures turned pale against representative Guzman’s victory with 75 percent of the vote in 2009.

Violent during election campaign

Some violence occurs during the campaign for the presidential and parliamentary elections on October 15. Militant Freelim supporters are reportedly giving up on political opponents without police intervention. Frelimo’s candidate Filipe Nyusi wins 57 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Renamo’s leader Afonso Dhlakama, gets close to 37 percent. In third place is Daviz Simango from Mozambique’s Democratic Movement (MDM). He gets just over 6 percent.


Renamo’s soldiers move to the national army

The agreement includes the integration of Renamo’s soldiers into the national army, which will be under international surveillance. The Renamos soldiers must also surrender their weapons. Anyone who committed a crime during the conflict should receive amnesty. According to the agreement, a continuing dialogue will be held on economic issues, such as how the country’s natural resources should be distributed so that the opposition will gain control of them.

The peace agreement will end the fighting

The peace treaty will hopefully end almost two years of low-intensity mutual fighting. There are no official figures on how many deaths were required during the conflict, but human rights activists estimate the number of those killed to more than 100.

New peace agreement is initiated

The government and Renamo conclude a peace agreement and include a ceasefire. Renamol leader Afonso Dhlakama leaves the jungle and signs the agreement in Maputo himself. He also says he plans to run in the October presidential election.


Renamos spokesman grips

Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchunga is arrested for leaving the presidential palace where he participated in peace talks with the government. Muchunga is accused of encouraging violence in his capacity as spokesman for the rebels.


The president rejects bill

President Guebuza vetoes the proposed law on bonus increases and asks Parliament to come up with a new proposal.


The people are protesting against the president’s benefits

A demonstration is being held in the capital Maputo in protest of proposed increases in bonuses and other benefits to the President and Members of Parliament. The protests are aimed primarily at the proposal that the president, when he resigns in the fall, should receive a “reintegration allowance” of the equivalent of ten annual salaries in addition to his pension. In addition, the President and his family will receive free airline tickets in the first class when they want to vacation.


4 police officers are killed in attack

Four policemen are killed and five injured in an attack on a Sofala province police station. Renamo is suspected to be behind the deed.

Filipe Nyusi is elected candidate

Frelimo appoints Defense Minister Filipe Nyusi as the party’s candidate in the October presidential election. Nyussi is said to be close to outgoing President Armando Guebuza.


Parliament votes for Renamo’s legislative proposals

At the end of the month, a united parliament votes for a new electoral law, which was tabled on a proposal from Renamo. Among other things, it means that electoral committees at the provincial, district and city levels should have 15 members, three of whom will come from Frelimo, two from Renamo, one from MDM and nine from civil society.


Negotiations resume

The government and Renamo resume their dialogue on a solution to the conflict. Representatives for each side meet for the first time in three months and begin negotiating the terms for continued calls. Renamo states a few days later that the party, despite previous boycott threats, will stand in the elections scheduled for October.