AFRICANGLOBE – Yesterday, the progressive world commemorated the 28th anniversary of the death of an iconic figure, Cde Samora Moises Machel, a revolutionary-par-excellence and Mozambique’s founding president. Cde Machel perished in a mysterious plane crash in the Lebombo Mountains near Mbuzini, South Africa on his way from a meeting in the Zambian capital Lusaka on October 19, 1986.
He was 53.
To date, the cause of the plane crash remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Apartheid South Africa, probably working with the United States-backed Renamo rebels, has always been the prime suspect.
There is a strong bond between Mozambique’s Frelimo and Zimbabwe which dates back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and Cde Machel’s leadership.
Just like Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and Botswana’s Sir Seretse Khama, Cde Machel opened his heart, country and resources and accommodated Zimbabwe’s freedom fighters, allowing them to use Mozambique as their base to fight settler colonialists in the then Rhodesia.
Cde Machel was also a visionary leader who realised that Mozambique’s independence translated into the Sadc region’s liberty.
His story begins on September 29, 1933 at Chilembene in the Gaza province of Mozambique.
In his 1988 book, Machel of Mozambique, journalist Iain Christie writes that Machel was “born into a family prosperous by Mozambican standards of the time. This prosperity was the result of hard work, thrift and good farmland”.
Cde Machel took office as Mozambique’s founding president in 1975, after years of heading the country’s guerrilla movement, Frelimo, in the struggle for independence from Portugal, and he proceeded to lead the country through a tempestuous decade. He was a firm believer in armed struggle not as a means to an end, but as a means to the beginning.
“Of all the things we have done,” he said, “the most important – the one that history will record as the principal contribution of our generation – is that we understand how to turn the armed struggle into a revolution . . . it was essential to create a new mentality to build a new society,” he was once quoted as saying.
Upon independence, Cde Machel introduced sweeping reforms. An ardent socialist, he nationalised all land and property, and spearheaded the establishment of public schools and clinics across the country. By the end of 1975, most of the settler Portuguese population had left Mozambique in fear of violent retaliation for colonial crimes.
They left a trail of malice in their wake, urbanites destroying industrial infrastructure, plantation owners burning crops and equipment as they abandoned their rural kingdoms.
Ahead of Cde Machel’s death, one of the main events that occurred was the signing of the Nkomati Accord he entered into with PW Botha’s apartheid regime. The accord was signed on March 16, 1984 with the sole aim of ending South African aggression against Mozambique.
ANC president Oliver Tambo commented at the time that Machel had been forced to hug a hyena. The question remains: was the plane crash that killed Machel an accident or a sophisticated assassination plot?
On October 15, 2014, Mozambicans went to the polls to select the country’s fifth president since independence in 1975. The harmonised elections in which the ruling Frelimo party candidate Filipe Nyusi is leading the main contenders – Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel group Renamo and Daviz Simango of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) were held on the eve of the 28th year of commemoration of the founding leader’s death.
Dhlakama is rejecting the poll’s outcome and Zimbabwean analysts last week dismissed his calls to have another fresh round of elections saying besides it being a waste of national resources they observed that it would be an uphill task for opposition political parties in Africa to remove revolutionary parties.
Outspoken war veteran Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said there was no merit for Renamo to call for a fresh election because that authority rests with electoral authorities and other accredited observers.
“There are observers from Sadc, African Union and electoral authorities in Mozambique. Those are the opinions that matter. A contesting party is not the legal entity to make that call, particularly an opposition party like Renamo with dubious background,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
“It has always been an uphill battle for the opposition parties to claim legitimacy in Africa against liberation movements particularly post independence opposition parties being sponsored by colonial powers like Britain and the United States. It is the voice of Sadc, AU and electoral authority that will carry the day.”
Federation of Non Governmental Organisation Mr. Goodson Nguni said a bad culture had emerged from opposition political parties in Africa where elections in their view were only credible when they win.
“That is a culture from the US where elections were only free when the opposition party wins but when they lose the elections are not credible. That is the same thing that happens in Zimbabwe with the MDC-T. Elections are free and fair when it appears to them like they are winning but when they do not the elections suddenly becomes unfair,” said Mr Nguni.
Mr Nguni said Renamo failed to accept defeats despite losing to Frelimo many times in the past.
“People in Mozambique no longer want Renamo’s type of politics. They have taken the country to war and voters are simply saying they do not want that,” said Mr Nguni.