More disappointment than peace from year-old S. Africa-Mozambique accord
Johannesburg — The one-year anniversary of the nonaggression pact between South Africa and Mozambique will come and go tomorrow without much celebration. On both sides of the border there is a prevailing feeling of disappointment with the so-called Accord of Nkomati, though the unhappiness runs far deeper in Maputo, the Mozambican capital. South Africa's foreign minister, Roelof Botha, and defense minister, Gen. Magnus Malan visited Mozambique Thursday in an apparent attempt to shore up the accord. The outcome of their trip was not known at time of writing.
Disappointment also extends to Washington, where the Reagan administration hoped the accord, in which it had a hand, would prove the effectiveness of its policy of ``constructive engagement.''
``The accord has not lived up to [the Mozam- bican government's] expectations,'' says a diplomat in Maputo. ``They do not intend to revoke it, it's just in a deep freeze as they look at other options of ending the violence.''
It is the continuing and in some respects worsening violence of the Renamo rebel movement (formerly the Mozambique National Resistance) against the Maputo government that has deflated earlier expectations of the Accord of Nkomati.
Mozambique hoped the accord would substantially weaken Renamo, generally regarded as getting major support from South Africa prior to the signing of the Nkomati accord last year. That weakening has not occurred.
South Africa's security concerns, on the other hand, have been eased as a result of the accord. The African National Congress (ANC) guerrillas that used to use Mozambique as a major staging area for strikes into South Africa appear to have been effectively shut out of the country militarily. The ANC is banned in South Africa.
But South Africa had grander geopolitical designs for the Nkomati accord, and they are not being realized. South Africa's inability or unwillingness to deliver the improved security situation to Mozambique that was implicit in the accord has lessened Pretoria's chances of achieving similar agreements with other neighboring black-ruled states.
South Africa, whose system of racial segregation is offensive to the rest of Africa, is searching for areas of common interest with other neighboring states that can cut against that political hostility. Mutual security is one such area. And the Accord of Nkomati had the potential, in the eyes of the South African government, of demonstrating to other states of the region that cooperating with South Africa could offer great benefits.
However, the message that is going out from the accord to the rest of southern Africa seems to be one that only reinforces the already deep mistrust of Pretoria.
President Samora Machel of Mozambique has not accused the South African government of violating the accord between the two countries. The Machel government seems to accept that official support of Renamo has ceased in South Africa. But Mozambique does assert that Renamo continues to get material support from South African soil. This would violate the accord, which states in part that neither country will allow its territory to be used for acts of aggression against the other.
South African Foreign Minister Botha recently admitted for the first time that certain elements in South Africa had given support to Renamo. But he promised the government would take strong action against any proven violators of the accord.
Mozambique also feels that South Africa is violating the ``spirit'' of the accord. The Mozambique government wants South Africa to take a greater responsibility for curbing Renamo, even if it means pressuring supporters of the rebel movement outside South Africa, says the diplomat in Maputo. The rationale for expecting Pretoria to go beyond the strict letter of the accord is what Mozambique regards as Pretoria's overall responsibility for Renamo since it was once its main benefactor.
Renamo was established in l976 by the intelligence forces of what was then white-ruled Rhodesia. After Rhodesia became Zimbabwe (and adopted a Marxist ideology) in l980, South Africa is widely believed to have taken over the role as main supporter of Renamo.
Botha says he has already visited certain east African countries in an attempt to curtail alleged support from Renamo. He says Renamo is getting support from some European countries and possibly from the Middle East.
Renamo is very likely getting some aid from Portuguese individuals unhappy with the Machel government, which replaced Portuguese colonial rule in l975 after a decade of guerrilla war. These individuals may be operating in South Africa, Portugal, or other countries, analysts say.
The relative failure of the accord may stem from Renamo's increasingly hard-line stance. On Oct. 3, l984, Renamo, Mozambique, and South Africa agreed to a joint declaration that seemed to signal that a cease-fire was imminent in Mozambique. But since then, Renamo has continued its campaign of sabotage and hardened its political demands. In the Oct. 3 declaration, Renamo acknowledged Samora Machel as president of Mozambique. Now, Renamo is demanding free elections there.
The Reagan administration is keen to see the Accord of Nkomati work both as proof of its own assertion that dialogue with South Africa can produce positive results, and as a means of drawing Mozambique away from its strong ties with the Soviet Union. The Reagan administration has requested nonlethal military aid to Mozambique this year of about $l million.