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Nkomati Accord (16 March 1984)

Nonaggression agreement signed between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique on 16 March 1984. The South African apartheid regime's destabilization of southern Africa and the perilous state of its economy had placed the Mozambican government under intense pressure to sign an agreement with the minority rulers in South Africa. The Nkomati Accord was signed by the apartheid South African government and the Mozambique government at Komatipoort, a border post between the two countries. The accord was a limited pact in which both states agreed to not interfere in each other's internal affairs, to resolve outstanding differences peacefully, and to refrain from further violations of each other's respective sovereignty. In addition, both sides undertook to stop supporting organizations intent on violence or terrorism against the other party.

The two governments also pledged to eliminate hostile radio broadcasts from their respective territories and to cease the broadcasting of propaganda. A joint security commission, which was intended to monitor the terms of the agreement, began operating a month later. While circumscribed in its scope, the accord nonetheless marked a moment of optimism for the region's politics.

The signing was attended by diplomats from the East and the West as well as by other African states. South Africa's business community was also on hand, as the accord was supposed to signal to Mozambique's people that private-sector funds could flow into their cash-strapped country from South Africa if they were willing to abandon state socialism.

The Mozambican government, under the leadership of Samora Machel, seemed determined to fulfill its part of the agreement. Cadres of the African National Congress (ANC) were expelled from Mozambique, and it is clear that the pact was a setback, albeit a temporary one, for the region's liberation movements, which until this point had established a presence in the country and used this to operate against the apartheid state both politically and militarily. Ultimately, the agreement failed to hold.

South Africa's undertakings were, if not ambiguous, not entirely implemented. It failed to honor its commitment to stop supporting the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO), an anticommunist pro-Western Mozambican dissident force. Details of this failure were released by the Mozambican government. The work of the joint security commission became increasingly acrimonious. In 1986, for example, a diary found by Mozambican and Zimbabwean soldiers at a captured RENAMO base revealed that South Africa's military had continued its support long after the signing of the accord. South Africa's foreign minister, Roelof Frederik Botha, who had championed the accord, was deeply embarrassed by these revelations, which further strained relations between the civil and military arms of the apartheid state.

Western governments were largely supportive of the accord. European governments in particular rewarded South African President P. W. Botha by allowing him to visit seven European capitals, the first South African leader to visit these in several decades. Notwithstanding its accommodative policy toward South Africa under so-called constructive engagement, the Ronald Reagan administration did not, however, invite Botha to visit.

Peter Vale


Further Reading
Beukes, M. "Nkomati: The Accord and Its Background." South African Yearbook of International Law 9 (1983): 116–127.; Davies, Robert. South African Strategy towards Mozambique in the Post-Nkomati Period: A Critical Analysis of Effects and Implications. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1985.

Nonaggression agreement signed between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique on 16 March 1984. The South African apartheid regime's destabilization of southern Africa and the perilous state of its economy had placed the Mozambican government under intense pressure to sign an agreement with the minority rulers in South Africa. The Nkomati Accord was signed by the apartheid South African government and the Mozambique government at Komatipoort, a border post between the two countries. The accord was a limited pact in which both states agreed to not interfere in each other's internal affairs, to resolve outstanding differences peacefully, and to refrain from further violations of each other's respective sovereignty. In addition, both sides undertook to stop supporting organizations intent on violence or terrorism against the other party.

The two governments also pledged to eliminate hostile radio broadcasts from their respective territories and to cease the broadcasting of propaganda. A joint security commission, which was intended to monitor the terms of the agreement, began operating a month later. While circumscribed in its scope, the accord nonetheless marked a moment of optimism for the region's politics.

The signing was attended by diplomats from the East and the West as well as by other African states. South Africa's business community was also on hand, as the accord was supposed to signal to Mozambique's people that private-sector funds could flow into their cash-strapped country from South Africa if they were willing to abandon state socialism.

The Mozambican government, under the leadership of Samora Machel, seemed determined to fulfill its part of the agreement. Cadres of the African National Congress (ANC) were expelled from Mozambique, and it is clear that the pact was a setback, albeit a temporary one, for the region's liberation movements, which until this point had established a presence in the country and used this to operate against the apartheid state both politically and militarily. Ultimately, the agreement failed to hold.

South Africa's undertakings were, if not ambiguous, not entirely implemented. It failed to honor its commitment to stop supporting the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO), an anticommunist pro-Western Mozambican dissident force. Details of this failure were released by the Mozambican government. The work of the joint security commission became increasingly acrimonious. In 1986, for example, a diary found by Mozambican and Zimbabwean soldiers at a captured RENAMO base revealed that South Africa's military had continued its support long after the signing of the accord. South Africa's foreign minister, Roelof Frederik Botha, who had championed the accord, was deeply embarrassed by these revelations, which further strained relations between the civil and military arms of the apartheid state.

Western governments were largely supportive of the accord. European governments in particular rewarded South African President P. W. Botha by allowing him to visit seven European capitals, the first South African leader to visit these in several decades. Notwithstanding its accommodative policy toward South Africa under so-called constructive engagement, the Ronald Reagan administration did not, however, invite Botha to visit.

Peter Vale


Further Reading
Beukes, M. "Nkomati: The Accord and Its Background." South African Yearbook of International Law 9 (1983): 116–127.; Davies, Robert. South African Strategy towards Mozambique in the Post-Nkomati Period: A Critical Analysis of Effects and Implications. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1985.
 

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