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Resistance Leader Samora Machel - A Statesman and Soldier
10/23/2013 4:08:29 PM

Celebrated leader of Mozambique and its first president, Samora Machel

(GIN) Twenty-seven years after his death, the celebrated leader of Mozambique and its first president, Samora Machel, remains a symbol of resistance and hope.

Machel -- who died on Oct. 19, 1986, was called a thoughtful and decisive leader who died too soon.

He died in a plane crash while on his way back from the Lusaka summit in Zambia to be in time for the birthday of his wife, Graca Machel. The Tupolev 134 plane went down at Mbuzini, a village in what is now eastern Mpumalanga. More than 30 others perished in the crash.

Many believe that the South African apartheid regime orchestrated the incident although a commission that investigated the incident blamed pilot error.

According to Graca Machel in testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at a Malawi government crisis meeting at the time, the possibility of assassinating Machel had been raised. The report does not make clear the source of the rumor.

Graca Machel also told the hearing that her husband had been subject to assassination attempts prior to the crash.

Less than fifteen years later - but in another South Africa - Nelson Mandela stood in Mbuzini and gave a moving speech in honor of "a statesman, soldier and intellectual who we claimed as our leader too".

Unveiling a monument to Machel in 1999, Mandela reflected on the unresolved mystery of the crash and the hope for transparency and justice.

"It is painful that our quest to understand the causes of the crash remains unfinished. The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, imperfect as it may be, has laid a foundation ... It has taken us further towards our goal of bringing a legitimate and credible conclusion to the uncertainties about the event on this hillside some twelve years ago."

At the end of 2012, the Hawks announced that they were finally launching an investigation into the accident. That was in December. If there has been any substantial progress since then, it has not been made public.

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