Our Planet Reviewed - Expedition Papua New-guinea

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Story of mozambique

Salazar in power: the colonial regime becomes harsher


The regime became harsher with the rise to power of Salazar, who annexed a colonial act to his constitution in 1930. Against a background of integrating the colony with the mother country and with the support of the church, it was concerned with restoring Portugal’s pride, undermined by its problems overseas; but the colonies had to finance themselves.
The act codified the exploitation of the African workforce, banned unions and industrial action and distinguished indigenous from non-indigenous inhabitants. The indigenous (98% of the population) had no civil rights; they were subjects who had to carry a booklet or metal bracelet, their movements were controlled and they were subjected to forced labour; the integrated blacks were better treated, they paid less tax, they were excused forced labour and could move, but they had to fulfil certain conditions: being educated and renouncing tribal customs, reading and speaking Portuguese, having a secure job and demonstrating their good conduct. It must be understood that this integration according to merit was not well researched. Education was entrusted to the church, which doled out discriminatory and rudimentary teaching, and over 5.7 million, 98% of the inhabitants, were illiterate in 1950. From the fifties onwards, four investment plans dedicated to infrastructure and hydraulic construction (the Cabora Bassa dam) followed. Then a road programme was launched and airports and ports were modernised.

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Towards independence


When Salazar was replaced in 1968, Portugal’s colonial policy was maintained and any growth in status of the colonies was out of the question, while the majority of African States achieved independence.
There has been no lack of colonial dissent amongst the people of Mozambique, but collective action has never managed to become a reality, as the police are very vigilant. At the end of the fifties, the nationalist movement formed out of a few small fragmented groups, without any coordinated action. Encouraged by the progress of the neighbouring British colonies, some clandestine organisations developed (NESAM, Movimento Popular de Libertaçao africano de Moçambique , Uniao Makonde de Moçambique…). Those people of Mozambique who had emigrated to neighbouring countries also got secretly involved as the South African and Rhodesian policies were controlling and repressive.

Following Tanzania’s independence, the three principal movements formed into FRELIMO (Frente de Libertaçao de Moçambique) whose aim was the complete independence of the country. It was set up in Dar-es-Salam under the presidency of the intellectual Eduardo Mondlane, assassinated in 1969. The accent was on the formation of executives and on solidarity with the other African liberation movements. Armed struggle began in 1964, the FRELIMO army being made up of 250 men trained in Algeria and Egypt. It led a guerilla warfare against the Portuguese forces, which enabled it to extend its action to the north of the country. The party consolidated and put itself forward to establish popular power in a national democratic revolution. Portuguese military operations could not contain the movement, which spread to the centre of the country.  In the end it was the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in April 1974 that put an end to the war and established a check on the Portuguese civilising spirit.  The Lusaka Agreement signed in September 1974 between Portugal and the FRELIMO chiefs set up a transitional government before the proclamation of independence. The party was to build the nation of Mozambique where any form of exploitation must disappear. But the local situation was a matter for concern: the economy had become disorganised because of the departure of half the Portuguese in an environment of conflict and the constant settling of scores.