Mozambique's International
Relations with South Africa

Dossier MZ-0007, part 8


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8. The Nkomati Accord Breaks
Down, October-December 1984

Jacinto Veloso

Above: Jacinto Veloso, a former Portuguese Air Force pilot who defected to join FRELIMO in the 1960s, was one of Samora Machel’s most trusted comrades, and served as the first Minister of Security after independence. He was a principal negotiator of the Nkomati Accord, and was involved in many of the post-Accord contacts with South Africa, which were often fractious.

Talks in Pretoria between the Mozambican government, the South African regime and the MNR took place while at the same time fighting on the ground between the FPLM and the rebels increases in intensity (see here for details). Meanwhile, South African attempts to present themselves as well-intentioned intermediaries in the Mozambican conflict, rather than its primary sponsors, were not necessarily well received internationally. For example, the British Sunday newspaper The Observer editorialised on 7 October 1984 that

Pik Botha is now being paraded as the peace-maker in the Mozambican civil war; TV cameras have recorded his soulful account of the long hours spent in bringing the rival factions together. The two Bothas are sure everything is going their way … they are now preparing for a peace-keeping mission in Mozambique ... It would be folly to think the South African initiative is based on high-mindedness ... South Africa … cynically fuelled Mozambique's civil war by its backing of the rebels until Machel was brought to heel in the Nkomati Accords ...

At year’s end Jacinto Veloso announced in an interview that Mozambique had lost patience and would present evidence of South African violations of the Nkomati Accord to the public. To make sure the message was heard loud and clear, it was carried on Rádio Moçambique, on Radio France International, and was also published in the Lisbon weekly O Jornal. But Pik Botha dismissed the accusations, commenting that the government was respecting “both the letter and the spirit of the accord”.

In a speech just before the end of the year, Samora Machel commented that one of the consequences of the signing of the Accord was the unmasking of a conspiratorial network of enemies of the revolution,

"Their civilisation is destruction and death, and it is their morality”

adding that the economy would continue to suffer decline as a result of the actions of the “armed gangs”.

In October/November, the editor of the progressive French monthly Afrique-Asie published an editorial in both the French and English editions of the magazine, in which he denounced the Nkomati Accord, and described Mozambique as “easy prey” for South Africa. This led to a break in relations with Mozambican journalists, who published in response an open letter saying that they would no longer write for the publication.

MHN Resources

Consolidated Downloadable Zipped Files

Click on the yellow folder image below to download a zipped file of the eighth of a series of dossiers on South Africa-Mozambique relations. The archive covers the period October to December 1984, and contains 75 documents. New items will be added from time to time: this edition of the dossier is dated 23 October 2021.

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