General Awards Himself More Than 300 Square Kilometers of Land
The governor of the southern province of Kwanza-Sul, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, 61 years old, has recently authorized on his own and for himself land for agricultural use and the construction of condominiums. Through a glaring scheme of self-dealing, the governor and his family have already grabbed over 30,000 hectares (over 300 square kilometers) of land in Kwanza-Sul.
A high-ranking figure in military strategy, within the inner circle of presidential power, parallel to the FAA – Angolan Armed Forces, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira also occupies the post of representative of the Intelligence Bureau of the President of the Republic for Southern Angola.
“We will adhere to the MPLA’s program for government, which is to increase growth and improve distribution [of wealth]”, quoted the governor on his inauguration by president José Eduardo dos Santos, on September 29, 2012.
Adhering to the MPLA’s program, throughout the year of 2013, the governor personally grabbed vast tracts of land within the province under his rule, as revealed in this investigation.
Firstly, in chronological order, Maka Angola discloses the land-grab initiatives undertaken by the governor in the current year.
On the April 17, the private company Eusébio de Brito Teixeira e Filhos (EBRITE) applied for authorization from Governor Eusébio de Brito Teixeira to takeover the coastal land on Chicucula beach in Gangula commune in the municipality of Sumbe, for urban development. This site of 92 hectares is currently occupied by a large community, which will be evicted.
EBRITE is a company created on October 12, 1998 by General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, and on behalf of his children Carlos Mandume Brito Teixeira and Dilma Jeruza Serpa Teixeira. Since then, the general, who is a 50% shareholder in the company, has held the post of managing director. Besides farming, EBRITE’s stated business also includes hairdressing and mining exploration, and the possibility of “undertaking any other commercial or industrial activity agreed upon by its shareholders and permitted by law”.
Then, on April 17, 2014, another application was filed with the provincial government, as an appendage to that of EBRITE. This involves an application from Geosystems Angola Lda, requesting the concession of 153.53 hectares of land adjoining to the south, the land requested by EBRITE. Both applications were processed very quickly. “To the department for authorization to be granted [illegible signature]. 05-06-014 Urgent”, may be read on both applications, coming from the governor’s office.
According to a source within Sumbe’s local authority, “Chicucula is communal land with a large local population. It is also an area of transhumance [moving cattle to new grazing areas], and therefore may not be rezoned”. The Keve River flows into the sea at Chicucula.
“The governor and the companies associated with him, Pisek Engineering, Geoland and Geosystems, want to undertake a touristic project there, bulldozing the law”.
The three companies have in common the same majority shareholder and managing director: Bruno da Silva Magalhães.
Geoland and Geosystems only became incorporated on April 7 2014, with their publication in the official Daily Gazette [Diário da República]. Geoland has almost 60 areas of interest within its stated core business, from management of preschools to jewellery business and even petroleum exploration. Ten days later, both companies had already sent in applications to the governor for land concessions. Pisek Engineering originally from Portugal, and was only registered in Angola in February of 2013.
According to the General Regulations on Land Registry, “rural communal land is that occupied by families belonging to a local community and used by the same, according to local customs of land use, for habitation, occupational activities or other uses recognised by custom or by law”.
In turn, the referenced regulation establishes that “rural communal land encompasses complementary areas for transitory agriculture, transhumance corridors granting access to sources of water and pasture for cattle and pathways, whether or not subject to the regime of servitude, used for access to water or to roads or trails leading to urban developments”.
Also according to the regulations, these lands “may not be rezoned for development”.
In the course of the investigation undertaken, Maka Angola had learnt that, initially, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira had promised the Headman of Chicucula that schools would be built and other social projects would be undertaken, with government funding. “The governor never informed the Headman that he was expropriating land for his personal benefit, in order to build a touristic project”, says a member of the local community, who prefers to remain anonymous, for fear of reprisals.
In the area, other high-ranking officers, including Brigadier João Manuel, own large herds of cattle, and are less than pleased with the situation.
Governor petitions himself
Yet again, on April 17, three further applications for land registry were forwarded to the provincial governor as a single file. General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira applied for 48.847m2 to build a residential condominium.
In turn, Pisek Engineering Lda was granted 23.875m2. Enclosing the condominium site to the South, West and East, Geoland – Engenharia Lda obtained 30.677m2. These sites were registered at record speed and the whole process was concluded on April 22.
Following the legal procedures, on May 4, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira wrote “to Your Excellency the Governor of the Province of Cuanza Sul”, that is to say, himself. On the petition, the General wrote: “Requesting the legalization of a site measuring 48.847m2 in order to build a condominium in the Ex-Carvalhos area of the city of Sumbe”, the provincial capital.
To that effect, “I hereby most respectfully petition Your Excellency the Governor to grant the referred authorization”.
One month later, on June 6, the municipal administrator of Sumbe, Américo Alves Sardinha, forwarded official memorandum nº 252/06.06.09/2014 to the provincial governor, and sent a copy of the document to General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, that is to say, to the same person. This was a favourable report from the local authorities advising governor Eusébio de Brito Teixeira that he could now grant his own petition to become the legal title-holder of the land.
Colonel Serafim Maria do Prado, former governor of Kwanza-Sul and current ruling MPLA Member of Parliament, had already registered a large section of the same site in his own name. But his successor has become the law unto himself, and stripped him of the land deeds.
Sources within the provincial government point out how the governor actually used Pisek and Geoland to personally accumulate a total of 103 399m2 (10.3 hectares) for his condominium project. These companies are the governor’s partners in the condominium construction project, and have already been granted several lucrative construction contracts within the province.
In the Regulation on the Concession of Lands, the law establishes that two hectares is the maximum limit for land concession within urban areas, and five hectares in suburban areas. Authorization for areas exceeding five hectares falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Urbanization.
Maka Angola has tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain an official reaction from both the applicant, Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, and the governor, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, one and the same person.
The governor’s private district
The governor expropriated practically the entire commune (district) of Dumbi, in the municipality of Cassongue, when he gobbled a total of 22 685.21 hectares of land, for three country estates.
In the first, which includes the village of Chipindo, the governor transferred a total of 11 000 hectares to his name. By law, the application should have been approved by the Cabinet, or indeed by the President of the Republic, who holds the exclusive authority to grant land concessions of over 10 000 hectares.
On May 27 past, the provincial governor completed the concession application process “pertaining to the tract of land owned by Mr Eusébio de Brito Teixeira”.
“The governor does not have the authority to grant 11 000 hectares to himself. He lied to the people when he claimed that the land was for a State-funded project to combat hunger and poverty”, says an influential member of the local administration, who prefers to remain anonymous.
Once the governor’s true intentions came to light, local communities came together and forced the removal of the machinery and workforce that had already started work on marking out the boundary of the estate, making roadways and carrying out other preliminary structural work.
The machinery had been lent by General Lisboa, a businessman from the municipality of Quibala, in exchange for favours from the governor, according to provincial government sources.
Also within the confines of Dumbi commune, the General-Governor has an estate with 8 115.91 hectares, which he attributed to himself with the approval of the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), Afonso Pedro Canga.
In the village of Vavele, within the same commune, Eusébio de Brito Teixeira took possession of over 3 569.3 hectares for a third country estate.
A senior official of MINADER, who wishes to remain anonymous, is critical of the governor’s land-grabbing rapacity: “Anything is possible in this banana republic. The law is only for the masses, the poor, the marginalized and the neglected”, he says.
“A powerful applicant can accumulate tens, hundreds or thousands of hectares, and not even use one per cent of the land acquired. Furthermore, fortunes are made in this way, with absolutely no cost. It’s primitive capital accumulation”, claims the official.
“Furthermore, another strategy employed to usurp land from local farmers and ordinary citizens, is the placement of notices by the State rezoning land for agricultural use or public utilities. This way, leaders expropriate lots of land under cover of law and for private use”, adds the source.
As an example, the MINADER official mentions Project Quiminha, in the municipality of Icolo e Bengo, in Luanda, where the Israeli company Tahal is involved. “They expropriated land from the farming community there, with promises of compensation, which was never paid. According to the word on the street, the situation there is heating up [growing discontent]”, he concludes.
Improve distribution, to the family
Adhering to the political agenda of the MPLA, the party in power for the last 39 years, whose motto is “increase growth and improve distribution”, last year the governor took on the task of improving land distribution to his own family.
On December 5, 2013, Isaura da Conceição de Lima Serpa Teixeira, the wife of General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira also petitioned her husband, the governor of Kwanza-Sul to grant her acquisition of the title deeds to a plot of 1 000 hectares of land in Sahossi, in Sanga commune in the municipality of Cela.
On the same day, December 5, 2013, their daughter, Dilma Jeruza de Serpa Teixeira, also submitted a petition to her father to acquire the title deeds to 500 hectares of land bordering the land registered by her mother, to the west. One of the couple’s sons, Edilson Paulo Serpa Teixeira, also used the same method, on the same day, to register ownership of 500 hectares bordering his sister’s land to the south and east.
Since February 25, 2013, Edilson Teixeira has been officially employed as a member of the provincial government, as a top adviser to the governor, his father. This act of nepotism by the governor is a mere reflection of the customs employed by the leadership of the MPLA.
However, this is not the end of the story: on December 5 2013, two of the governor of Kwanza-Sul’s other daughters, Petra Okssana de Azevedo Teixeira and Eucélia Valula de Azevedo Teixeira, also put forward petitions to their father, for the rights to 500 hectares of land each.
Petra Okssana’s plot borders that of her step-mother Isaura to the north, south and west, while south of it, stretches that of her sister Dilma and the Cacufo River. On the eastern side her land is an extension of that registered by the sisters Eucélia and Dilma.
By this means, in just one day, the governor of the province of Kwanza-Sul, General Eusébio de Brito Teixeira transferred title of 3 000 hectares of land to the private ownership of his family.
A source close to the governor’s family states that the leader “is known to be particularly kind and generous where his family is concerned”.
Nevertheless, the governor’s generosity in transferring public property to himself and his family is illegal.
According to the Law on Probity, the governor is not allowed to “intervene in the preparation, decision-making and execution of acts and contracts” over which he has a direct interest (Art. 28, a), or which favour his spouse, children and other members of his immediate family (idem, b).
The law also establishes as an act of illicit enrichment, the illegal transfer of public property, land, in this case, to the private property of the governor (Art. 25, i).
In spite of the abundance of proof of, at the very least, questionable conduct, the general is protected by the impunity conferred on its practitioners by wholesale corruption. Corruption and the plundering of State assets have been the principal factors uniting the various groups of the ruling MPLA, the Angolan Armed Forces, the National Police and other sovereign bodies.
In Kwanza-Sul, the only members of the ruling elite who have not acquired land are the figureheads and those not paying attention. In time, Maka Angola will publish a list of the feudal lords, little and large estate owners, who have parcelled out an entire province between them. With equal voracity, these same lords are already expanding their feudal plundering of land in Malanje and other provinces of the country.
As Zeca Afonso used to sing: “They eat everything and don’t even leave scraps.”
P.S. The table listing all the land grabbed by the governor is available here.