Mozambique and Brazil: Forging New Partnerships or Developing Dependency?

By Matsimbe, Zefanias | Strategic Review for Southern Africa, May 2018 | Go to article overview

Mozambique and Brazil: Forging New Partnerships or Developing Dependency?


Matsimbe, Zefanias, Strategic Review for Southern Africa


Alden, Chris/Chichava, Sergio/Alves, Ana Cristina (eds), Mozambique and Brazil: Forging New Partnerships or Developing Dependency? Fanele, 2017, Auckland Park, 266pp.

Following the volume on China and Mozambique, reviewed in Vol 37, No 2 of the Strategic Review for Southern Africa, Professor Alden led an experienced team of multidisciplinary scholars to critically investigate the relationship between Mozambique and a leading emerging power, Brazil. This new book addresses the question of whether the two nations are shaping new partnerships beyond their existing language, historical, cultural and social ties or whether they are creating a new dependency nurtured by Brazilian assistance programs in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, technical cooperation, health, cultural and religious inter-change.

By analysing the complex dynamics that characterise the relationship between the two countries this volume shows that: while the Brazilian and Mozambican elites speak of a successful relationship, building a new development partnership within the spirit of South-South Cooperation (SSC) has been controversial and heavily criticised by civil society organisations (CSOs) in the recipient country, mainly because of the negative impact of projects and programs on local communities. As indicated below, the ProSavana project, along the Nacala Corridor, in northern Mozambique, is a particular case in point.

The volume consists of 13 individual chapters, well-written and in a very simple language. Each chapter tries to establish a better understanding of how Brazil implements its South-South economic diplomacy while at the same time defending its economic interests on the continent, with particular focus on Mozambique. Although the chapters complement and build on each other, each chapter can be read individually, depending on the interest of the reader, without compromising their overall understanding of the matter being discussed.

The volume opens with a powerful introduction, setting the scene with a succinct explanation of the historical relationship between Brazil and Africa and with Mozambique in particular. Chapter one reflects on the changes in Brazilian foreign policy when Lula gained power, turning to Africa as a strategic continent for the implementation of the Brazilian long aspired concept of SSC. More specifically, the chapter analyses the trajectory of the relations between Brazil and Mozambique from 1975 when Mozambique achieved its independence from colonial rule. It explores the ups and downs of this bilateral relationship to the point of Mozambique becoming one of Brazil's major partners on the continent. Chapter two compares the relationship between the two countries within the broader framework of Brazilian foreign policy with the rest of Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP). It finds little difference since Brazil grounds its relations with each and every PALOP country in the axis of SSC and cooperative action. Based upon a much closer analysis of the relations between Brazil and Mozambique, chapter three dismisses the arguments that Brazilian assistance to Mozambique is free from commercial interests. The chapter shows that the logic of SSC in Brazil's relations with Mozambique is more rhetoric than reality since Brazilian assistance to Mozambique is always accompanied by caveats. In that respect, Brazilian assistance is not much different from that of traditional donors working within the logic of North-South Cooperation (NSC).

Brazil has mainly invested in extracting natural resources and agricultural modernisation in Mozambique. This is why chapter four analyses the role of Brazil in the extractive sector as a turning point from dependence to development and cooperation. Chapters five and six look at Brazil's involvement in agriculture. Chapter five specifically analyses one of the most important Brazilian projects in the country, co-funded by Japan, namely ProSavana. …

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