Angola's woes haunt Mandela visit to Maputo

THE nightmare scenario of a second Angola, where a United Nations-monitored ceasefire and elections collapsed into one of Africa's bloodiest duels for power, overshadows Nelson Mandela's first state visit abroad this week, to Mozambique.

Officials of Angola's rebel Unita movement were in Pretoria yesterday to prepare for a visit by their leader, Jonas Savimbi. Meanwhile, Mr Mandela celebrated his 76th birthday and prepared a message of national reconciliation for delivery tomorrow in Maputo, Mozambique's capital.

In Mozambique, former government and rebel soldiers, demanding to be fed and demobilised, are rebelling. The opposition leader, Afonso Dhlakama, complains of attempts to rig elections planned for October. Budget-conscious Western donors are hurrying to withdraw the massive UN operation in Mozambique (Onumoz). It all has the familiar ring of Angola about it.

Mozambique is important to South Africa. This was made clear by Mr Mandela's decision to make his first state visit there. Resumption of the civil war, which began after independence from Portugal in 1975 and ended with a ceasefire agreement in October 1992, would be a disaster for Pretoria. South Africa is already flooded with tens of thousands of refugees from Mozambique seeking work.

The decision by the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) to support the black nationalist wars in Zimbabwe and in South Africa cost it dearly. For years, Mozambique was a key supply route for arms and trained fighters to the African National Congress's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. South African commandos attacked Maputo several times, and killed Ruth First, author and wife of South Africa's current Housing Minister, Joe Slovo, by letter bomb.

The Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) was armed and trained by South African military intelligence for a civil war, which killed up to one million people and forced millions to flee as refugees to neighbouring countries.

Lawlessness, banditry and corruption are increasing fast as a plan to demobilise the Renamo and Frelimo armies and mould the soldiers into a new army falls behind. Revolts by both armies, held in primitive camps, and lacking food and pay, have multiplied.

Last week a group of Renamo soldiers put roadlocks on the main road north of Maputo, and held several hundred people hostage, including UN personnel, until food was delivered.

The UN Security Council has ordered Onumoz to quit Mozambique by the end of November. Donor funding for programmes to retrain demobilised soldiers has been minimal. Some Russian estimates put the number of AK-47s in the country at the time of the peace accords at over 1 million, although thousands have been sold across the border in South Africa. The Italian contingent to the 6,000-strong UN peace-keeping force has already pulled out.

Seeking to invoke the same kind of compromise which he used to subdue the conflict with Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party in the KwaZulu/Natal province, Mr Mandela is expected to calm Mr Dhlakama's nerves by assuring him of South Africa's neutrality in the forthcoming elections.

Mr Dhlakama yesterday accused the Frelimo government of trying to rig the elections in October, by issuing fake voter registration cards, registering foreigners and preventing rural Mozambicans from getting their voting cards by the 20 August deadline.

While he ruled out a return to war, Mr Dhlakama's statement that he would not accept the result of a rigged vote sounded ominously similar to a statement that Mr Savimbi made a week before the September 1992 polls in Angola. Mr Savimbi then cried foul and started the civil war again, which, according to some estimates, has killed 500,000 people in the past 18 months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral