Nationalism and exile in an age of solidarity: Frelimo–ZANU relations in Mozambique (1975–1980)
Munguambe, Clinarete Victoria Luis
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This article contributes to our knowledge on the intricate relations between host governments and liberation movements and on the workings of transnational military partnerships in the anticolonial struggles of the 1970s, through an examination of the political and military relationship between Mozambique’s Frelimo (host) and Zimbabwe’s ZANU liberation movement. There is a dearth of critical perspectives on the nature of host–liberation movement relations, more so from the point of view of hosts. The article begins to shed light on un-researched Frelimo evaluations of its relationship with ZANU. I utilise the perspectives of Mozambican political elites and non-elites to argue that Frelimo’s support for ZANU was partly motivated by feelings of genuine solidarity. Frelimo–ZANU relations were frosty at first because Frelimo regarded ZANU as an inauthentic liberation movement. ZANU won Frelimo over by demonstrating cogent commitment to armed struggle. However, improved Frelimo–ZANU relations were characterised by disagreements over guerrilla tactics, ZANU guerrillas’ objections to Frelimo soldiers’ relationships with Zimbabwean women at the warfront, and the unpragmatic approaches of some ZANU elements towards the possibility of a negotiated independence for Zimbabwe. In addition to Frelimo’s backing, ZANU received support from ordinary Mozambican citizens, particularly those who lived in areas along the Rhodesia–Mozambique border. The support of Mozambican citizens for ZANU was encouraged by Frelimo’s revolutionary ideology and by the common ancestry, language and culture of Mozambicans and Zimbabweans living in the border zones. The case of Frelimo and ZANU underlines the point that hosts’ influence on liberation movements’ internal politics must be seen as limited by the interests and agency of liberation movements themselves. But Frelimo held decisive authority on the right to withdraw support on its territory, which it used as an inducement on ZANU to agree a negotiated independence settlement in 1979.