Mozambique and South Africa

by Ai Thuy Lu


Mozambique and South Africa, two countries in the continent of Africa that has had rich histories fill with strife, triumphs, and events that have shaped the character of each country. Mozambique is located in Southern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South Africa and Tanzania. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo. It’s population comes close to 20 million with the ethic make up of 99.66% indigenous tribal groups (Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, Makua, and others), 0.06% Europeans, 0.2% Euro-Africans and 0.08% Indians. The official language is Portuguese due to the fact that Mozambique was a Portugal colony for over 5 centuries. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. The capital of South Africa is Pretoria. It’s population is close to 43.5 million with the ethic make up of 75.2% Black, 13.6% White, 8.6% Colored, and 2.6% Indian. There are 11 official languages, which includes Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.


 Mozambique and South Africa has been in a struggle to gain freedom. Through these struggles, leaders have emerged. These personalities have helped shape each country’s national identity. Samora Machel and Nelson Mandela both were the first ones to become president of their countries after battling apartheid and repression. 

 Mozambique had been a Portugal colony for over five centuries. In 1962 Samora Machel jointed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), to fight for the liberalization of Mozambique from Portugal. By 1970 he had become commander and chief of the FREMILO army. He led the revolutionary army that eventually weakened Portugal and forced the Portuguese to leave Mozambique. He became the first president of the free Mozambique and was loved by the people that he was affectionately call President Samora.


South Africa has had a history of racial discrimination. In the 40’s, Strategists from the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system. Nelson Mandela held many positions in the African National Congress speaking against the injustices of apartheid. He was then imprisoned for over 20 years. After his release, on May 10 1994 Mandela was elected as the first State President of South Africa.

In 1974 when Mozambique was independent from Portugal, FRELIMO was immediately given the power of the government. FRELIMO the movement now became the body of power in Mozambique. Leaders of FRELIMO policies were influenced by “the revolutionary ideologies of the 60’s, of Cuba and Vietnam as well as those of Cabral and the PAIGC.”  In 1977 FRELIMO’s Third Party Congress declared itself as a Marxist-Leninist Party. FRELIMO officially became a “vanguard party” modeling themselves closely to the communist party and it was announced “the aims of the party are the destruction of capitalism and the construction of a material base for socialism.” FRELIMO wanted focus on the industrialization for the modern economy of Mozambique. Land was nationalized as well as abandoned houses and businesses. Smaller businesses were transformed into state retail store and larger corporations were run by the state. The National Planning Commission set quotas for production.  Private schools were taken over by the state. Private practice of medicine and law was made illegal and all privately owned rental propriety was nationalized. Farms were made communal. The army’s task was to ensure of the transformation of the society.


 Mozambique had maintained good relations with countries that were willing to assist in its development. Its closest ties were with China, Soviet Union, Cuba and other communist state.  In 1977 Mozambique entered a 20-year treaty with the Soviet Union receiving foreign aid. With the abundant investment and more positive factors the economy seem promising.

However even though FRELIMO tried hard to establish this socialist state, it eventually failed. External factors such as the war with Portugal and conflicts with South Rwanda hurt the economy. The large flight of skilled managers and technicians, after independence, lead to poor performance because of the lack of experience. Production goals were not meet because of slack work habits and walkouts by workers. There was also discovery of massive corruption by the government run business. Soon after businesses were returned to private shopkeepers and farm were returned to families. With the fall of the Soviet economy, the socialist economy was dropped in 1989 and free market economy was adopted.

South Africa was a particularly taken interest in when the discovery of diamonds and gold. There was a flow of European investments with an increase of cash and credit. This was the start of the South African free market economy. South Africa trades internationally.


 In the 1970’s South Africa economy was based on mining (being the world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs. It is like an US market economy. However during this time apartheid was a policy forced separating blacks and white and effecting the standard of living for most of the population.

The standard of living from the 70’s through the 90’s for both countries were poor. In South Africa people were barely able to support themselves. 17 million people were in extreme poverty. There were few jobs for the blacks due to apartheid. The wage of a white was 5 times that of a black. School for black children were far less adequate than white school. 4.6 million people were illiterate. There was no electricity or infrastructure for black town. 4.3 million families were without homes. There was widespread malnutrition and hunger with lack of access to clean water, which in turn spread many diseases and caused many health problems.

 In Mozambique the conditions were not any better. Illiteracy was high. There was poverty.  People were starving because of the socialist focus on increasing industrial and not growing as much in the agriculture sector. Food was scarce. There were high rates of child malnutrition. Water was not sanitized causing spreading of diseases such as measles, typhus and so on, and causing other health problems. There were also no immunizations for these diseases causing higher rates of death.

 From the 70’s through the 90’s South Africa and Mozambique had different economic systems yet the same problems. It can be seen the success of a well being of a country depends on outside factors that an economic system can not predict.



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