When Corruption in Angola is Easier Than in Nigeria

It is an honor for me to be here. I thank Ambassador Lyman and the Council on Foreign Relations for the opportunity to address you this morning.

During our civil wars, the government of Angola consistently pointed to corruption as the second major destructive force in the country after the civil war.  Ironically, in times of peace, corruption has become the most defining issue in governing the nation.  It is a common part of business and government relationships. It has taken root throughout our social fabric. It is so pervasive that by the end of 2009 President José Eduardo dos Santos declared a zero tolerance policy against the scourge – a sinister attempt to deflect attention to the problem and to appease his detractors.

Since October last year, I set up a website [www.makaangola.org] to monitor corruption in government in the context of the country’s legal framework, and in order to examine how it is affecting the functionality of the state. I have identified four major areas of corruption.  These are:  the transfer of state assets to top government officials, through privatization; the assignment of public contracts to companies owned and often managed by top government officials; joint-ventures between multinationals, top government officials and generals as an imperative of foreign investment; and the multi-billion dollar loans coming from China.

President Dos Santos, who has been in power for 30 years, has been commonly viewed as the epicentre of corruption in government. His recent declaration of a zero tolerance policy does not outline any concrete steps to combat corruption, notwithstanding the approval of a new law on public probity, whose articles already exist in other legal documents.

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