Multimillion-dollar Retirement in the FAA

During the course of this year, several army generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) will be demobilized, as part of a retirement scheme set in motion by the Commander-in-Chief, the president José Eduardo dos Santos.

According to a source from the FAA General Staff, “this year alone 14 generals should be demobilised, and next year a further 20 will be retired”. Among the officers notified for retirement, the most prominent are general Rafael Sapilinha Sambalanga, Inspector-General of the Ministry of Defense; general Eduardo Martins, advisor to the Minister of Defense; general Fernando Araújo, former head of Weapons Procurement Main Directorate; general Aires Africano, head of Health Services of the General Staff; general António Filomeno Carvalho Pereira, former head of Special Forces of Central Command of Operations.

According to the source, who prefers to remain anonymous, the Commander-in-Chief has stated the “ageing” of the officers to be demobilised and the excessive number of generals on active duty, as the main arguments for his retirement scheme. Just on July 27 of last year, president José Eduardo dos Santos reshuffled the posting of 59 generals on rotation, a fraction of those on active duty.

Notwithstanding, the officers due for retirement have been expressing their displeasure at being put out to pasture. As a conciliatory gesture, envoys from the head of state have offered the dissenting generals a “golden handshake” worth US $10 million each for a quiet retirement “so that they can transition to the business sector, setting up companies, small factories, etc”.

However, the leaked information on the “golden handshake” has sparked angry arguments within the army. For many, the said generals are already very rich, as they own several business ventures, properties, fleets of luxury cars, and farms.

General Fernando Araújo is one of the wealthiest in the FAA, having been one of the principal beneficiaries of corrupt schemes led by the French arms dealer, Pierre Falcone, according to records from the Angolagate trial case in France. The general is also a partner in the Terra Verde project, in partnership with Arkady Gaidamak, ex-arms trade business partner of Falcone’s. With the Safeca brothers, (Alcides, secretary of State for the Budget at the Ministry of Finance; Aristides, deputy-minister of Telecommunications; and Amilcar, director of UNITEL, the main mobile phone operator), the general is a co-owner of Trans Omnia, which has been awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to supply foodstuffs to the FAA.

In total, just for this year, the proposed incentives on offer for the generals reach US $140 million. The question is: where are the funds being drawn from to support this extra-budgetary operation, which is illegal?