For many people living in southern Africa, Mozambique was a sought after holiday destination until independence in 1975. It then entered a period of decline prompted by the creation of a communist state and a civil war. The two protagonists in that war, the ruling FRELIMO party and the opposition RENAMO, signed an historic peace treaty in Rome in 1992 which created the base for democratic government, investment, new infrastructure and general renewal.
The situation had become so peaceful, that like neighbouring South Africa, the event of general elections were not considered newsworthy by international media. Tourist numbers and investment in tourism infrastructure from lodges to hotels has accelerated significantly in recent years and the beaches of Mozambique have become a destination of choice for tourists in southern Africa post their safari.
For the first time in many years, politically inspired violence has broken out this year. In April, RENAMO members attacked a police post, killing five people, apparently in retaliation for raids on party gatherings. The RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama admitted ordering ambushes on the main north-south highway last month. Police responded by raiding a RENAMO camp in early July. RENAMO is further threatening to boycott November’s general elections.
All of this has to be placed in context. This sporadic violence is very localised and essentially centred in the northern district of Gorongosa where RENAMO has its headquarters. There is an amount of posturing in all this, ahead of the plebiscite where FRELIMO have been dominant in what have been generally considered free and fair elections. It should be noted that unless you are travelling to the particular district of Gorongosa, the likelihood of encountering any violence will be small. Probably 99% of tourists in Mozambique will not even realise that there have been any problems.
As always, you should consult your government travel advisory websites before you arrive as the advice on these websites influences in certain cases the payouts on your travel insurance and the legal obligation of tour operators to reimburse cancelled trips. The main websites are:
Is Mozambique safe? by Nicolas Edwards