The trial of 17 Angolan political prisoners has been set for 16 November. Although Luaty Beirão and Domingos da Cruz have featured the most prominently in media reports, there are others who deserve to be mentioned.
Manuel Nito Alves,
Sedrick de Carvalho,
Fernando Tomás (Nicolas Radical),
Benedito Jeremias (Dito),
Albano Bingo Bingo
Inocêncio Brito (Drux),
Hitler Jessy Chiconde (Itler Samussuku),
Rosa Conde (Zita),
Laurinda Gouveia (Lau).
History has already passed judgment on these youths: they are a symbol of the Angolan yearning for freedom; they are new heroes that, over the centuries, have been filling the glorious pantheon of nationalists. It is all done.
It is José Eduardo dos Santos, who ordered that the youths be imprisoned and tried, who will be on trial.
The people will be looking at the facts of José Eduardo dos Santos’ 36-year rule. They will decide whether Angola truly has democracy and an independent judiciary; whether Dos Santos’s rule has improved the lives of the people or whether it has mainly served to distribute riches among a tiny elite that has become wealthy at the expense of the majority. They will see why an unacceptable number of infants die before the age of five; why, for such a wealthy country, Angola figures at the bottom of the world, when it comes to development.
These are the facts that will be on trial: the theft of riches; poverty; infant mortality; the lack of freedom; the lack of development.
In his defence, José Eduardo dos Santos could cite having retained Angola’s independence, economic growth in some years, the existence of a democratic constitution, and the sustenance of peace after many years of a devastating war.
A Soviet-style show trial will not have any legitimacy; it will just be another farce. Since the 17 symbols of Angolan freedom have already been acquitted by the nation, it is José Eduardo dos Santos who will be judged.
This is a trial about him and his regime. It is as simple as that.