Recovering from war

President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, sets out an agenda for his country, for his party, Frelimo, and for the Socialist International in Africa

Issue 2, Volume 48, 1999

Peace, democracy, development and globalisation are issues of great relevance and immediacy for our citizens and they require us to think about them carefully, linked as they are to the well-being of our peoples.

The peace in which we live today in Mozambique and which cost us so much to achieve is the symbol of the dream which was denied us during almost three decades of successive wars. These wars desolated our country, destroying its social and economic infrastructure, as well as its social fabric. Today our efforts are concentrated on the political, economic, social and cultural spheres, with priority being given to dialogue and to the encouragement of pluralism of ideas within our own country and in the regional and international framework.

The peace that we enjoy today in Mozambique, and which we want to be long lasting, has made significant growth of our economy possible through investments and greater possibilities for commerce throughout society. This includes the private sector which is growing in strength in the context of a partnership where everyone benefits.

We are proud to have been able to safeguard and defend the highest interests of the nation and of its citizens, even in the most difficult moments of our history when the enemies of peace tried their best to split us apart.

Today all our people are concentrating on preparing for the second, general multiparty elections, due to take place on the 3-4 December of this year. Citizens will exercise their fundamental right to freely choose their leaders. Democracy is an irreversible process in Mozambique.

We are highly aware that democracy does not end once ballots are cast. Democracy must reflect the collective will of the people as they seek solutions to the problems of their daily lives, on the basis of common interests at all levels. Democracy means citizens getting together in political, economic and social life as active participants in their future.

It is in a spirit of brotherhood, tolerance and responsibility that we visualise the future of a Mozambique, indeed of an Africa which is prosperous, cohesive and guided by the ideals of social justice, solidarity and humanism. It was in that spirit that we welcomed the recent meeting of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, in our country. We look on the unanimous election of Mozambique to head the SADC as an increased responsibility that we have to fulfil in the global struggle for peace, security and stability in Southern Africa.

Our continent must commit itself to adopting policies which promote a culture of peace and commitment to such a culture as a way of establishing mutual confidence among countries and their respective citizens as an essential condition for long-term stability. We must promote good, participatory government which eradicates intolerance and encourages democracy and social justice.

The democracy we experience in Mozambique day by day and which gains strength in this independent country of ours was inherited in great measure from the traditions of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, Frelimo. Through its successful struggle for national independence it gave Mozambicans the chance of seeing the destiny of their country in their own hands for the first time. It is a democracy based on criticism and self-criticism, freedom of expression, thought and information and the promotion of human rights and the fundamental liberties of the citizen. In this context we believe that the Socialist International can play an important role in the consolidation of these ideals through the concrete actions partnership of all its member parties.

Democracy and good government are reinforced by dialogue. This in turn is the right road towards the goal of negotiated solutions to conflicts which continue to block achieving real regional integration and cooperation. The conflicts which affect large parts of our continent and many regions of the world are not compatible with the need for development and the promotion of social justice and with increasing globalisation.

In this situation we are encouraged by the prospects of peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo created by the signature of the Lusaka Agreement by all of the parties involved. If this accord is to be fully implemented, the international community as a whole - the Socialist International included - needs to assume its responsibilities, assisting the process of reconciliation of those in conflict. The United Nations, and other parties concerned, have a particular responsibility to send observers urgently. Our experience in Mozambique shows that such a sensitive problem like the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo can only be solved through a combination of factors, including the political will of the parties. As a peace-loving country we are resolved to do all we can for the restoration of peace in this important SADC country and throughout the Great Lakes region.

Sadly the expectations aroused concerning a solution to the Congo problem does not seem to be accompanied by similar progress on the question of Angola which is on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe.

With great effect the recent SADC summit expressed particular worry about the aggravation of the situation in Angola and the political and social destabilisation that the political and military conflict means for the region and the continent as a result of the irresponsible and warlike attitude of Savimbi. We would like, once more, to appeal vigorously to Savimbi to save the people of Angola from suffering, hunger, poverty and illness, and from the death and destruction that have plagued them for more than forty years.

The attainment of peace and stability in Angola is vital if the calm which has been denied there during these long years is to be restored and if this conflict, one of the most tragic legacies of the Cold War, is to be buried for good like a nightmare of the past. We must also fight so that our continent is a zone free of conflict in the approaching millennium. We know that only with peace and stability throughout the African continent will it be able to play a more active and enterprising part in meeting the challenges of globalisation. Globalisation is an irreversible and unavoidable process for which we must prepare.

We are convinced that the Socialist International in its diversity can make a significant contribution so that developing countries are not being eternally pushed to the margins and deprived of the benefit of the technological advances of today's world.

Africa needs a voice, more coordinated action, policies and clear strategies from the Socialist International to banish the great ills which plague her. By this we mean dialogue on the foreign debt, HIV-AIDS, malaria and poverty. When we talk of poverty we observe the large degree of illiteracy, the great shortages of drinking water, the high levels of mortality among infants and their mothers which prevail in most countries.

By calling attention to the need for action within our organisation we turn to the great resources and the vast stores of knowledge and know-how that are wasted on the manufacture of excessively costly weapons of war. They are bought at the expense of a culture of equality among nations and among humankind, at the expense of a culture of peace and humanism.

It is with this vision and conviction that Frelimo is active in the Socialist International, conscious that it has valid experiences to share, and aware of the increasingly important role that such a political organisation plays in today's world.

We are firmly convinced that a family such as the Socialist International, imbued with the ideals of peace, democracy, progress, solidarity and social justice, offers great possibilities and advantages to its members. I am sure that together we can effectively contribute to the strengthening of partnerships and coordination of mutually advantageous instances of cooperation in the search for a new international economic order in which developing countries are not merely eternal suppliers of raw materials and consumers of the manufactured products of the industrial countries.

I know that such a partnership can really pull Africa out of the lethargy, misery and exclusion that have characterised its international relations, resulting in hunger and poverty prevailing on this continent. The Socialist International must be even more forceful in its worldwide agenda and thus strengthen its influence in international fora.

The Socialist International Congress in November in Paris will be the perfect opportunity for it to adopt the policies it needs to become ever more influential in the 21st century.



© 1999 Socialist Affairs. All rights reserved.


Signed articles represent the views of the authors only, not necessarily those of Socialist Affairs or the Socialist International