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date: 31 January 2023

Renamo and Mozambiquelocked

Renamo and Mozambiquelocked

  • Corinna JentzschCorinna JentzschLeiden University


The history of independent Mozambique is a history of war and peace, and it is closely intertwined with the history of the main opposition movement Renamo (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana), which formed as an armed movement and transitioned into a political party. Mozambique gained independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975 after a ten-year liberation struggle. The main liberation movement Frelimo (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) became the ruling party and introduced far-reaching social, economic, and political reforms. These reforms generated discontent, which contributed to the formation of opposition movements in the center of the country. From the late 1970s onwards, an armed movement, later known as Renamo, gained ground in central Mozambique and fought a guerrilla war against the Mozambican government. Renamo received support from Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) and apartheid South Africa who sought to undermine Frelimo aid to liberation movements in their respective countries. It was only in 1992 that Renamo and Frelimo reached a settlement with the help of international mediators, with a path to multiparty elections in 1994. Since then, Renamo has participated in elections as a political party but has never won a majority in parliament nor was it able to claim the presidency. Political conflict between Frelimo and Renamo has never subsided, with Renamo regularly protesting election results and alleging fraud. Tensions escalated in 2013 and led to low-level conflict in the central region. A ceasefire agreement in 2014 and a unilateral truce by Renamo in December 2016 ended that conflict, but a peace accord was only struck after Afonso Dhlakama—president of Renamo—died of natural causes in 2018. Since then, tensions have remained due to armed activity by a Renamo breakaway movement and a slow demobilization process, and peace remains precarious. Renamo’s transition from an armed movement into a political movement, similarly to Mozambique’s transition from war to peace, has not yet fully materialized.


  • Economic History
  • Political History

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