They called me crazy!

They called me crazy! They also branded me “frustrated”, “anti-patriotic”, “a CIA agent”, “a sell-out”, and “a traitor”. I endured endless political harassment and countless run-ins with the police. I had to cope with smear campaigns, economic deprivation and social isolation. I was put on trial for exposing their human rights abuse and corruption. Who are “they”?  “They” are the members of the Dos Santos Administration:  the individuals who were the beneficiaries of, and accomplices in, then-President José Eduardo dos Santos’s regime.  They’re the ones who embodied the institutionalized corruption and the state capture of the economy, the repression and the fear that pervaded Angola during the 38 years Dos Santos held power. Then in September 2017, Dos Santos’s chosen successor João Lourenço was elected President and decided that the stench of corruption was too much to bear. The result is that a number of high-profile and high-ranking malcreants within […]

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An Anguished Cry for Justice in Angola

The family of a man tortured to death by Angolan police have petitioned President João Lourenço for justice.  As reported by Maka Angola, João Alfredo Dala was beaten and mutilated during a 15-hour police interrogation as part of an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of an elderly pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Angola.   Evidence supplied to Maka Angola suggested that the pastor in question, Daniel Cem, had staged his own kidnapping as a form of revenge on the Church hierarchy after being sacked from his administrative role and losing his status and privileges.   Pastor Cem told officers investigating the case that the kidnappers bundled him into a truck he recognized as belonging to a member of his congregation, João Dala.     Mr Dala was taken in for questioning and a number of the officers from Angola’s Criminal Investigation Service (Serviço de Investigação Criminal – SIC) recorded the interrogation […]

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Only in Angola: Fraudster’s Bank Gets Bail-Out

The notorious Angolan-Swiss fraudster, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais,  was remanded in custody in Angola last September to await trial on charges of embezzling billions of dollars from the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.    So why are the Angolan authorities allowing him to continue as the majority owner and head of the Banco Kwanza Investimentos, S.A.?  And what on earth persuaded the Governor of Angola’s central bank to bail out Bastos de Morais’s failing ‘investment’ bank?    FLOUTING THE RULES Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais (JCBM) registered the BKI (initially under the name of Banco Kwanza Invest, S.A.) with himself as the majority owner with 85% of the stock and the remaining 15% registered in the name of Sérgio Ferreira Mata da Costa.  This was a ruse to hide the real owner, the former BKI Chairman of the Board and Swiss national, Marcel Kruse, presumably to comply with a requirement for an Angolan […]

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The Hunter, Hunted: An Angolan General’s Hunting Lodge

Angolans call the remote southeastern province of Kuando Kubango “the end of the world” (in Portuguese: “o fim do mundo”).  Bordering Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, it’s more than a thousand kilometres inland from their country’s capital and a byword for the poverty and destruction wrought by more than 30 years of civil war. As its ruined roads, bridges and infrastructure remind us to this day, Kuando Kubango was a heavily-mined battleground; the heartland of the US-backed rebel UNITA movement, headquartered in Jamba.   With the end of the civil war in 2002, the national government did set aside funds for rebuilding.  The so-called ‘Peace Dividend’ has allowed individuals to amass huge fortunes from Angola’s reconstruction but all these years later Kuando Kubango remains largely unreconstructed, in part because of the diversion of public funds into the pockets of corrupt officials during the Administration of former President José Eduardo dos Santos. […]

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Angolan Injustice: The Case of the ‘Kidnapped’ Pastor

The reported kidnap of an elderly pastor belonging to the Church of Seventh Day Adventists in Angola made for sensational headlines. Pastor Daniel Cem alleged church leaders had ordered his abduction in November 2015 and claimed his family had to pay a ransom of 30 million Kwanzas (US $220,000 at the time) to secure his release. Pastor Cem named the Adventist Church’s regional Executive Secretary as having organized the kidnap. He then accused the President and Chief Financial Officer of defamation for passing around the church hierarchy an anonymous letter purporting to confess that the kidnap was staged by Cem’s own family to extort money from the church. After a controversial trial in December 2017, six members of the Adventist church, including the three northern region leaders, were found guilty and sentenced to between one and five years in prison. They have been bailed, pending appeal, but are confined to […]

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Repairing Angola’s Central Bank

In the wake of recent revelations of mismanagement and corruption at the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), its Governor, José de Lima Massano, took to the airwaves in an attempt to defend his reputation and that of the bank. It was all to no avail, because many high-ranking officials have taken to heart the new Angolan President’s strictures against corruption and are willing to blow the whistle, backing up their claims with documentary proof. It’s evidence that should prompt the Attorney-General’s office to open an investigation. Maka Angola has been given a copy of the contract signed in 2013 for the rehabilitation of the central bank’s historic main building, signed by Massano during his first stint at BNA governor. As with other projects (like the much-derided Currency Museum), he hired the Angolan subsidiary of the Portuguese construction firm Somague to do the work. Somague stands accused of routinely padding costs […]

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Angola: When the Wolves can Dance with the Goats

This is an edited version of the presentation made at the Conference: A Celebration of Mandela’s Legacy and a Reflection on Democracy and Good Governance in Africa.   I am honored to return to the European Parliament as a guest of the Socialists and Democrats Group, for Africa Week. This meeting is special – it coincides with the centenary of the birth of one of Africa’s most celebrated leaders, Nelson Mandela. So it is a fitting day on which we take the opportunity to pay homage to his wise legacy and share our views on democracy and good governance. In Africa, what counts as democracy and good governance? The definition of these two concepts has spawned many political arguments – not to mention an entire industry of scholarship. In homage to Mandela, and with regard to the relationship between rulers and the ruled on the African continent, allow me to […]

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Angola’s ‘Money Pit’ Currency Museum

The Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), the country’s central bank, is housed in one of the prettiest colonial buildings that the capital city has to offer: a confection of Portuguese colonial construction in pink and white, consisting of two colonnaded wings which meet at a circular tower topped by a distinctive red-tiled cupola. The ‘wedding cake’, completed in 1956, occupies an entire block of Luanda’s Marginal, the gently-curving and tree-lined avenue which runs the length of the picturesque bay. Buried in the paved pedestrian square alongside the bank, some meters beneath an elaborate winged structure, is one of the city’s lesser known museums: the subterranean ‘Museu da Moeda’ (the Currency Museum). Opened in 2016, it may only have a single below-ground exhibition room with exhibits of dubious worth but this museum is worthy of a little more attention than it has received so far. The Currency Museum project, which began […]

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Angola’s Path to Justice: Prosecuting the Guilty and Recovering the Stolen Billions

The dramatic recent arrests of high-ranking figures linked to former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has gripped the public. Yet little or nothing has been revealed about the struggle to recover the billions of dollars stolen from the public purse during Dos Santos’s corrupt regime. Extensive whistleblower reports published by Maka Angola have led to numerous investigations and prosecutions across the globe to bring to justice all those who illicitly enriched themselves during the Dos Santos years. But efforts to repatriate the missing billions have been complicated by the tortuous schemes devised by the principals to obscure the money trail. One such example: Back in 2009, an Angolan company named Portmill Investimentos e Telecomunicações S.A. allegedly committed fraud in its acquisition of a majority shareholding in the Banco de Espírito Santo Angola (BESA). BESA was the Angolan subisdiary of one of Portugal’s oldest private banks, the Banco de Espírito […]

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Angolan Port Authority Seeks End to Sogester Contract

The Danish multinational giant, Maersk, stands accused of making obscene profits at the expense of Angolan dockworkers amid calls for the contract awarded to its subsidiary, Sogester, to be ripped up. The Port of Namibe says it is struggling to pay its workers because it is powerless to revoke a 2014 contract which gives 90% of income to the port’s commercial operator, Sogester, a joint partnership between the Maersk group’s APM Terminals and a company which is the commercial arm of Angola’s ruling MPLA party. According to the Port of Namibe board chairman, António Samuel, “it has been an enormous struggle to safeguard workers’ pay and keep going on the 10%”. The dockworkers’ union agrees – and says it is high time this contract was torn up. The port authority and union are hoping the government of President João Lourenço (elected in September 2017) will step in to review what […]

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