Low Batteries for Manuel Vicente in Malanje

By Ezequiel Fragoso


The campaign speech in Malanje August 11 by the MPLA’s vice-presidential candidate, Manuel Vicente, bore little relation to reality and found little favour with local MPLA activists.

For several days, Angolan National Radio’s provincial outlet announced that more than 100,000 MPLA activists and friends of the party had been mobilised to attend Manuel Vicente’s rally on Saturday, at the former party’s fair in the Catepa neighbourhood of Malanje city.

To accommodate the large crowd, the Malanje municipal administration demolished, last week, ten classrooms attached to the Feira Primary School. The provincial director of Education, Gabriel Alexandre Boaventura, told the press that the demolition was part of a previous project that “is in line with our plans since the beginning of the year”. The pupils are currently having a break from school because of the electoral period.

Boaventura promised that another school, Patrice Lumumba, would be renovated and enlarged to accommodate the pupils from the demolished classrooms. “We think, given the conditions that the classrooms were in, that it was necessary to transfer the children who were studying in those classrooms to Patrice Lumumba,” Boaventura said.

The Patrice Lumumba School is about 500 metres from the Feira School. Maka Angola has confirmed from local sources that construction work is still ongoing, and will not be completed by September, when classes resume.

Meanwhile, only about 4,000 people took part in the rally, and many left when an electricity cut caused a half-hour break in the music performance that preceded Manuel Vicente’s speech. The incident provided an opportunity for the spectators to jeer at the MPLA leaders and make known their displeasure with the constant electricity failures and with other unfulfilled promises.

Malanje province is home to the Kapanda hydroelectric dam, a US$2.6 billion government investment, which started producing electricity in 2004. Yet, in the province, with more than one million inhabitants, only 22,000 have access to electrical power, a number that includes public and private institutions and residential customers. Of the province’s 14 municipalities, only two – the provincial capital and Cacuso – receive electricity.

In his speech, Vicente, who is currently the minister of State and of Economic Co-ordination, outlined the progress made by his government in 10 years of peace, and accused the opposition of being blind to what is being done in terms of national reconstruction and of the well being o the population. The vice-presidential candidate promised electricity, water and education to everyone in Malanje province. The audience reacted unenthusiastically. During the course of the event, the master of ceremonies had to repeatedly ask the audience to clap and show their support for the MPLA.

On the central platform, the slogan that was most closely associated with the years of dictatorship and of Marxism-Leninism in Angola – “the MPLA is the people and the people is the MPLA” – dominated the scene in giant letters.

Despite the reminders of the past and the constant pleas by the master of ceremonies, the crowd reserved their applause for the Genesis musical group and other singers. The party leaders on the central platform had to use plastic artificial hands to enliven Manuel Vicente’s speech.