This week we are focusing on former President Nelson Mandela’s first visit to a foreign country as a head of state.
Nine weeks after taking an oath as South Africa’s first black and democratic President, Madiba headed to neighbouring Mozambique.
Political Analyst Imraan Buccus says democratic South Africa‘s decision to pick Maputo as the first country to strengthen relations with is understandable, considering the “gallant solidarity” Mozambique showed to the oppressed people of South Africa during apartheid.
Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party often risked the country’s security and citizens to assist exiled South Africans.
Maputo hosted anti-apartheid activists after the country gained its independence in 1975.
Threatened by the relationship between Frelimo and members of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto Wesizwe, P.W Botha’s government launched an attack against the ANC military base in Maputo in 1981, killing 16 people.
The ANC fought back and killed two state security officials.
The onslaught continued and in 1982, Botha’s security forces killed South African Communist Party (SACP) founding member who was also Joe Slovo’s wife, Ruth First.
Retired Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs survived a car bomb attack in 1988. He lost his right arm and was blinded in his left eye during the incident.
Tanzania, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe are other neighbouring countries that assisted South Africa’s exiles.
South Africa’s gratitude debt
However, Buccus feels South Africans haven’t treated the Mozambican people with the courtesy they deserve.
Recalling the 2008 xenophobic attacks and the 2013 killing of Mozambican, Mido Macia, by police who dragged him behind a van in Daveyton on the East Rand – the political expert believes government needs to do more to end prejudice against the country’s neighbours.
Buccus believes South Africa owes Frelimo and Mozambicans a great deal for the hospitality they showed to the country’s freedom fighters.
Former President Jacob Zuma, ANC veteran Pallo Jordan and former Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies are some of the anti-apartheid activists who were exiled in Mozambique.
Watch related video after the sentencing of Macia’s killers:
On July 20 1994, Mandela and his Mozambican counterpart Joaquim Chissano signed a Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation (JPCC), which entailed the legal framework for bilateral relations between the two countries.
More than 20 agreements in various spheres of co-operation were signed following the JPCC. The deals included co-operation at ministerial, presidential and parliamentary level. It also resulted in the Maputo Development Corridor and a Joint Water Commission.
Since then – relations between the two neighbours have grown from strength to strength, especially in the area of economic cooperation and investment.
The two countries currently have more than 70 bilateral agreements. There’s also a memoranda of understanding that covers various sectors, including energy, defence and security; education, immigration and tourism.
Watch video of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to Mozambique: