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NZDF Involvement in mozambique 1993 to 2005

In December 1992, the United Nations started its operations in Mozambique to rebuild the country after protracted conflict.  The United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) oversaw the Mozambican peace process. From 1993 to 1994, New Zealand, along with 25 other nations, contributed peacekeepers to ONUMOZ.  New Zealand provided demining expertise to the military.

In September 1994, the United Nations Mozambique Accelerated Demining Programme (MADP) was established to deal with the landmine problem in the country – a legacy of over 30 years of civil war. New Zealand’s contributed technical advisors to MADP from 1994 to 2005.  These personnel were usually based at the mission HQ in Maputo. On 30 June 2005, NZDF involvement in Mozambique ended, with the withdrawal of the last NZDF officer, who had served as the Chief Technical Advisor (CTA) for MADP.

Snapshot of NZDF Involvement: 2002:

In 2002, NZ contributed two military engineers to the MADP to assist in management of demining programmes. Both were based in the capital, Maputo. The first specialist was an engineer officer, who was posted to the MADP for a period of 12 months. The second specialist was an engineer warrant officer, who was posted to the mission for 6 months.

The goal of the UN Development Programme, which oversees UN involvement in Mine Action Programmes such as the MADP, is to build sustainable mine action programmes. As of 2002, the MADP was the most successful de-mining mission in the world. As of the end of 2002, the MADP had cleared over 2.9 million square metres of area known, or suspected, to be mined.

History of Mozambique

Colonial Period

Although cattle-owning chiefs inside Mozambique controlled much of the trade in goods, trade in slaves and all the ports along the East African coast were under Arab control when the Portuguese explorer, Pero da Covilha, arrived in 1487. By 1510, however, Portugal had taken control of all former Arab ports and Mozambique became a Portuguese colony.

For much of the colonial period, Portuguese influence was concentrated along the coast, with only indirect influence being exerted in the interior via land concessions granted to European settlers and companies. Portugal controlled much of the country's trade, first in ivory, then in slaves, and finally, in the late 1800s, in minerals and raw materials.


Throughout the Portuguese colonial period, native Mozambicans were badly treated. Apart from being traded as slaves, they were used as forced and poorly paid labour. An uprising occurred in 1917, but was quelled.

Then, in 1962 a group of exiled Mozambicans met in Tanzania and formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo). In 1964 Frelimo launched a guerilla war against the Portuguese government in Mozambique. The war had reached a stalemate by 1970, which was resolved only after a coup in Portugal in 1974 caused the colonial government to crumble. Thus, in 1975 Mozambique became independent and Frelimo took power.

Civil War: Frelimo vs Renamo

The Frelimo government instituted a number of Marxist-Leninist political and economic reforms. They also supported the liberation of blacks in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. In reply, those two states sponsored an anticommunist guerilla movement called Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo).

Civil war ensued. Renamo's aims were the overthrow of the Frelimo government. This it sought to achieve by destroying infrastructure and terrorising the population. In 1984, in an effort to re-establish control, the Frelimo government agreed to end support for the African National Congress in return for South African agreement to end support for Renamo. Still the war continued.


In 1990 the government adopted a new constitution firmly disavowing Marxism-Leninism, and established Mozambique as a multiparty democracy. The new constitution paved the way for peace talks, and in October 1992 Frelimo and Renamo signed a UN-negotiated peace agreement.

On 13 October 1992, UN Security Council Resolution 782 was passed to monitor and verify the cease fire, the separation and concentration of forces, their demobilization and the collection, storage and destruction of weapons. The UN force created in December 1992 to oversee this process was the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ). The ONUMOZ mission ended in December 1994.

In 1994 elections took place, won by Frelimo and recognised by Renamo. Frelimo again defeated Renamo in the polls in 1999. That time, however, political tension over the result ended in riots and deaths in late 2000. Both parties had backed down by 2002. In 2002, there appeared to be a genuine desire to settle disputes amicably, which would allow Mozambique to continue making good economic and social progress.

Landmine Problem

In 2002, one of the impediments to prosperity for Mozambique was the presence of landmines left after the civil war. Landmines prevented land being used productively and injuries from landmines prevented people from reaching their potential in contributing to the economy. For reasons such as these, the UN Development Programmes sponsored the Mozambique Accelerated Demining Programme (MADP), designed to raise mine awareness, as well as to demine the countryside.

Country Profile


Mozambique is a southern African country with an area of 801,590km2. It shares borders with Tanzania to the north, with Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, with Zimbabwe to the west, and with Swaziland and South Africa in the southwest. To the east Mozambique is bordered by the Indian Ocean. Mozambique has 2,470km of coastline, which makes up about one-third of the seaboard of eastern Africa. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo.

Most of Mozambique's coastline is low-lying, consisting of swamps or sandy beaches. Coastal areas are backed by thin forest and grassland, which cover about two-fifths of the country. Farther inland are several mountainous regions formed by the edge of the southern African plateau that extends into Mozambique from the west. Mozambique's highest point is at Mount Binga (2,436m) in the Manica and Gorongosa highlands along the Zimbabwe border. The Zambesi River bisects the country


The country's climate is tropical to subtropical. Temperatures vary according to season and location, with the coast generally being warmer than the western mountain ranges. The hottest region is the Zambesi Valley, where the average summer temperature is 32 degrees c..

The Indian monsoon winds bring rains to Mozambique from October to March, while a dry season prevails during the rest of the year, when the winds blow in the opposite direction. The southern third of the country is generally drier than the northern two thirds around the Zambesi Delta.

Severe droughts struck Mozambique in 1974, the early 1980s, and 1992. The droughts were relieved by heavy rains, which resulted in flash floods, the latest in early 2001. Severe flooding also ravaged Mozambique in early 2000, displacing thousands of people and wiping out crops and livestock.


The civil war in Mozambique cost more than one million people their lives. In 2002, the population is approximately 18,400,000 (growth rate: 2.87 percent). Life expectancy at birth, in 2002, was 44 years for men and 46 years for women.

In 2002, ninety-nine percent of the population belonged to indigenous tribes; only 1 percent of the population was white. Fifty percent of Mozambicans held traditional religious beliefs, 30 percent were Christian, and 20 percent were Muslim.


In 2002, Portuguese was the official language, but many indigenous dialects were spoken in the country.


The war, large-scale emigration by whites after independence, drought, and socialist mismanagement all served to destroy infrastructure and ruin the country's economy, slowing industrial development especially.

In 1994, Mozambique ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, despite significant mineral and agricultural potential (forestry, fishing, energy). Since then, economic reforms and foreign aid have seen the country's economy grow at a rate of 10 percent in 1997 to 1999, although this growth is built on a very small economic base.

In 2002, Mozambique's economy was still agriculturally based, but exports included coal and energy as well as agricultural products. Mining was entering a growth period with diamond explorations by a Portuguese company, Tamega, beginning in 1999. Oil and natural gas production looked set to follow.

New Zealand's Involvement in Demining

New Zealand has had military personnel involved in demining long before international agreements such as the Inhumane Weapons Convention came into being. In conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand Defence Force has contributed to United Nations demining missions in Pakistan (1989-1991) and Angola (1997-2000).

In 2002, New Zealand contributed personnel to the United Nations Mozambique Accelerated Demining Programme, to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), and to the Unexploded Ordnance Programme in Laos (UXOL).

Many factors have contributed to New Zealand's involvement:

  • The need to address humanitarian imperatives arising out of UN peace support operations in war-torn countries.
  • The growing awareness of the sheer extent of the landmine problem around the world, as identified by studies conducted by the United Nations and other agencies.
  • The need to protect United Nations peacekeepers operating in countries with a significant landmine problem.

The nature of New Zealand involvement in demining programmes around the world has been provision of advice and training. In most countries, nationals themselves carry out actual demining tasks, often closely assisted by demining personnel from various non-governmental organisations.

 This page was last reviewed 29 September, 2011 and is current.

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