Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Joaquim Alberto Chissano was born on 22 October 1939 in the remote village of Malehice, district of Chibuto, in Gaza province, and was the second President of Mozambique, having served from 6 November 1986 until 2 February 2005. Joaquim Chissano became the first black student enrolled at Liceu Salazar, where he completed his secondary education. He was a member and leader of the African Secondary School Students’ Organization in Mozambique (NESAM).
He studied medicine in Portugal. However, due to his political convictions, he was forced in 1961 to flee to Paris, en route to Dar-es-Salaam, where he joined in 1962 the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), as a founding Member. In 1963 he became a Member of FRELIMO’s Central Committee, having also held various important posts in the party, including Private Secretary of the President and Head of the Departments of Education and Security.
Joaquim Chissano played a fundamental role in the Lusaka Accord negotiations, signed on 7 September 1974 between FRELIMO and the Portuguese Government on the Independence of Mozambique. On 20 September 1974, he took office as Prime Minister of the Transition Government that led Mozambique to the proclamation of its National Independence on 25 June 1975.
After the proclamation of the Independence, Chissano was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his capacity as head of Mozambican diplomacy, he helped the country to acquire respect and admiration all over the world. Chissano was also part of the team of President Samora Machel that prepared, negotiated and signed in 1985 the N’Komati Accord between the Governments of Mozambique and South Africa.
With the tragic death of President Samora Machel, in 1986, Joaquim Chissano was elected President of the People’s Republic of Mozambique. As Head of State, Chissano successfully led the deep socio-economic reforms in the country, which culminated with the adoption of the 1990 Constitution that led Mozambique to the multi-party system and to an open market.
Chissano also led the successful negotiations with the former Renamo rebel movement that ended 16 years of destabilising war, which had devastated the social and economic tissue of the country. The peace agreement was signed on 4 October 1992, having made the people kindly consider him as a “Peace Maker”. In 1994 he won the first multiparty elections in the history of the country, having been re-elected President of the Republic in 1999. Despite the fact that number 5 of Article 118 of the Mozambican Constitution allowed him to stand in the 2004 presidential elections, Joaquim Chissano decided voluntarily not to do so.
As Head of the Mozambican State, Chissano occupied high posts in several international organisations, including Chairperson of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP); Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC); Chairperson of the SADC Organ for Cooperation in the fields of Politics, Defence and Security; and Chairperson of the African Union.
After retiring from office, he was appointed by Kofi Annan in 2005 Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the September 2005 Summit to Review the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration, as well as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Guinea-Bissau.
He has received the highest awards from many countries, namely Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, South Africa, Brasil, Cabo Verde, Nicaragua, France, Bulgaria, Madagascar, Cuba, Benin, Romania, Uganda, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and Lesotho.
He received several Prizes and Awards including the Hunger Project Prize, the Together for Peace Award and the Kellog Foundation Award. He has been awarded the Title of Dr. Honoris Causa by the following Universities: St. John’s University in New York; Université Libre de Brussels, Universidade de Coimbra University in Portugal, University of Macau, University of Malawi, University of Batton Rouge in the USA, and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique. He was awarded the Title of Professor Emeritus by the following universities: Beijing University for International Affairs of the Popular Republic of China, The Higher Institute for International Relations of Mozambique (which he founded in 1986) and by Instituto Politécnico e Universitário of Mozambique.
He is member of the Club of Madrid, The Hunger Project (Board of Directors) and the Nelson Mandela Institution (for Science and Technology). He is also an Honorary Member of the Maputo Rotary Club, The Organization of the Mozambican Workers (OTM), The National Organization of Mozambican Teachers, and Mozambican Association of Economists. He is further the Patron of the Mozambique National Song and Dance Company and of The Mozambique Institute of Information and Communication Technology.
Currently, he is the Chairperson of the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and of the Africa Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.
Chissano speaks five languages fluently: Changana, Portuguese, Kiswahili, English and French, while speaking reasonably 3 other languages: Spanish, Italian and Russian.
He is married to Marcelina Rafael Chissano and they have 4 children.