President Reagan has renewed the American commitment of help for Mozambique during a visit to Washington by Joaquim Chissano, president of the troubled southern African nation. That was the correct thing to do.
The American commitment is important as part of a cooperative effort with Western European allies to respond to the famine in Mozambique and to help the impoverished former Portuguese colony on the path to economic development. But the commitment has an additional importance, underscoring to all the nations of Africa that the United States is opposing the ugly guerrilla war in Mozambique that has the support of South Africa. Much of the hunger is the result of a scorched earth campaign conducted by the Mozambique National Resistance, which appears to specialize in murdering civilian populations. There is mounting evidence that South Africa is cynically using MNR as a key player is destabilizing not only Mozambique but also Zimbabwe.
Reagan has been under pressure from the radical right in the United States to abandon aid to Mozambique, because it is a Marxist regime with ties also to Moscow, and to establish relations with the MNR, presumably because it is anti-Marxist. Nineteen members of Congress, led by Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), a presidential candidate, sponsored a visit to Washington by an MNR leader in an apparent move to embarrass Chissano. The maneuver backfired when it coincided with reports that MNR was preying on civilians in Zimbabwe in an extension of its murderous campaign.
Reagan has resisted the right-wing pressure, to his credit. The need now is to make even clearer to Pretoria the opposition of the Western democracies to its clandestine campaign against the neighboring nations.