While allegiances dating back to the liberation struggle remain relevant, Mozambique’s foreign policy has become increasingly pragmatic. The twin pillars of Mozambique’s foreign policy are maintenance of good relations with its neighbours and maintenance and expansion of ties to development partners.
During the 1970s and the early 1980s, Mozambique’s foreign policy was inextricably linked to the struggles for majority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa as well as superpower competition and the Cold War.
Mozambique’s decision to enforce UN sanctions against Rhodesia and deny that country access to the sea led Ian Smith’s government to undertake overt and covert actions to oppose the country.
Although the change of government in Zimbabwe in 1980 removed this threat, the government of South Africa continued to back RENAMO in its war with the FRELIMO government. Mozambique also belonged to the Front Line States.
The 1984 Nkomati Accord, while failing in its goal of ending South African support to RENAMO, opened initial diplomatic contacts between the Mozambican and South African governments.
This process gained momentum with South Africa’s elimination of apartheid, which culminated in the establishment of full diplomatic relations in October 1993. While relations with neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania show occasional strains, Mozambique’s ties to these countries remain strong.
In the years immediately following its independence, Mozambique benefited from considerable assistance from some Western countries, notably the Scandinavians. The Soviet Union and its allies became Mozambique’s primary economic, military and political supporters, and its foreign policy reflected this linkage.
This began to change in 1983; in 1984 Mozambique joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Western aid by the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland quickly replaced Soviet support. Finland and the Netherlands are becoming increasingly important sources of development assistance.
Italy also maintains a profile in Mozambique as a result of its key role during the peace process. Relations with Portugal, the former colonial power continue to be important because Portuguese investors play a visible role in Mozambique’s economy.
Mozambique is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and ranks among the moderate members of the African bloc in the United Nations and other international organisations. Mozambique also belongs to the African Union (formerly the Organisation of African Unity) and the Southern African Development Community.
In 1994, the government became a full member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, in part to broaden its base of international support but also to please the country’s sizeable Muslim population. Similarly, in early 1996 Mozambique joined its Anglophone neighbours in the Commonwealth of Nations.
At the time it was the only nation to have joined the Commonwealth that was never part of the British Empire. In the same year, Mozambique became a founding member and the first President of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), and maintains close ties with other Portuguese-speaking countries.
Mozambique is divided into ten provinces (provincias) and one capital city (cidade capital) with provincial status. The provinces are subdivided into 129 districts (distritos). The districts are further divided in 405 “Postos Administrativos” (Administrative Posts) and then into Localidades (Localities), the lowest geographical level of the central state administration. Since 1998, 53 “Municípios” (Municipalities) have been created in Mozambique.
The districts of Mozambique are divided into 405 postos.
Postos administrativos (administrative posts) are the main subdivisions of districts. This name, in use during colonial times, was abolished after independence and was replaced by localidades (localities). However, it was re-established in 1986.
Administrative posts are headed by a Secretários (secretaries), which before independence were called Chefes de Posto (post chiefs).
Administrative posts can be further subdivided into localities, also headed by secretaries.
Mozambique operates a small, functioning military that handles all aspects of domestic national defence, the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces.