General Zé Maria Warns: The Devil Has Infiltrated Angola

The mental health of the head of the Military Intelligence and Security Services (SISM), General José António Maria, also known as “Zé Maria”, was called into question this week at a gathering of nearly one hundred of his subordinates, among them several generals. During a four-hour meeting held on Tuesday in commemoration of the Catholic holiday of the Pentecost, he repeatedly spoke about the presence of the Devil in Angola.

On two large screens placed in the Officers’ Mess hall, General Zé Maria showed numerous images of Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, with the heading “The Devil Paid By the CIA”. In his homily about the “devil”, the general argued that the journalist was Angola’s greatest enemy and must be treated as such.

To demonstrate the “real” power of the enemy, he drew on various examples, accusing some of his senior officers, for instance, of erecting tall buildings with financing from Rafael Marques de Morais.

Some of those present murmured among themselves that General Zé Maria, “no longer enjoys good mental health.”

The next day, on Wednesday, during a breakfast meeting with his officers, the general continued his speech against the devil, warning staff that on Rafael Marques de Morais’ payrolll there are several agents who have infiltrated SISM.

Among ranking generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), discomfort with General Zé Maria’s conduct is growing. Officers are worried that SISM, in the current moment of economic crisis and political uncertainty, lacks the capacity to monitor the discipline, operability, and cohesion of the FAA, due to the high levels of internal discontent provoked by the abnormal behavior of General Zé Maria.

To his credit, the general is an expert in inventing coup plots against President José Eduardo dos Santos, conspiracy theories and other nonexistent threats.  With the collaboration of the Attorney General of the Republic, Army General João Maria de Sousa, General Zé Maria was the principal architect of the detention, prosecution, and recent conviction of the Luanda Book Club. The 17 activists received sentences ranging from two years and three months to eight years and a half for discussing a manual on non-violence protests against dictatorship.