Felipe Nyusi, fourth President of Mozambique (2015).

Felipe Nyusi, fourth President of Mozambique (2015).

International media reports brought Mozambique’s ‘undeclared war’ to the headlines in January, as journalists investigated the reasons for Mozambican refugees fleeing to Malawi. The revelations of attacks on civilians, who security forces claim are helping the rebel group Renamo, come at a bad time for the government as it tries to fight economic difficulties and struggles with negativity surrounding the EMATUM scandal. Mozambique Politics & Security looks at the impact government’s latest moves might have on the country.

Mozambique’s international donors cannot have been ignorant of the refugee situation, but will now have to justify why they continue to support a regime which is firing on its own people – and which recently diverted an unauthorised US$500 million via the dodgy EMATUM deal to its ‘defence’ budget.

The publicity around the aggression comes at a time when the police and security forces are consistently undermining democracy. They are containing the activities of opposition Renamo supporters and activists. After heavily armed forces encircled the Renamo headquarters in Maputo on 30 December, stopping opposition parliamentary deputies going on a planned walkabout in the capital, the police did the same again on Monday 18 January, claiming that Renamo were planning an unauthorised demonstration.

Though these acts are clearly not comparable with the security forces’ attempts to kill Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in September 2015, they nevertheless cannot be acceptable in a supposedly democratic country where Dhlakama is the legitimate leader of the opposition. It’s the kind of behaviour that will put Mozambique on the path to becoming a pariah state.

On Tuesday 19 January, sources told Mozambique Politics & Security that the government had again refused to become party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This will not contribute to the country’s popularity among European states – although the US also does not recognise the Hague-based ICC, and there is increasing rejection among African countries of a court portrayed as a neo-colonial tool.