Manuel Vicente’s Raid on Sonangol

In 2008, Manuel Vicente, the chairman of the board and director general of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, restructured the company’s main subsidiaries to his personal benefit. The same year, petroleum exports exceeded $62 billion, according to the World Bank: 97.7% of Angola’s exports. These figures demonstrate the crucial role of Sonangol in the country’s political economy, as the only Angolan concession-holder in the industry. Manuel Vicente did a business deal with himself when he illegally transferred a percentage of Sonangol Holding into his own name, thus making himself a formal (private) shareholder in almost all the multi-million dollar deals of a state-owned business. This move by Sonangol’s top manager must first be put into context in the light of current legislation and the MPLA’s rhetoric on the supposed zero tolerance policy towards corruption. On 30 March 2010, the President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, signed into […]

Read more

Foul Play: Corruption and the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations

On 31 January 2010, Egypt emerged the victor in the Africa Cup of Nations, for the seventh time. Celebrations erupted in Cairo, while in Angola, which organised and hosted the championship, the final marked the return to reality. The Angolan government announced that is has spent $600 million on building four stadiums. The 11 de Novembro Stadium, in Luanda, with a capacity of 50 000, was budgeted at $227 million. In a country where the government rules through corruption and disrespect for the law, public works projects invariably involve shady institutional decisions regarding state contracts, to the primary benefit of political leaders. In between the football matches I took the time to investigate the points at which corruption and influence peddling could potentially occur in the process of organising the Cup of Nations. The first case that I am reporting concerns the inspection contract for the construction of the Luanda […]

Read more

UNICER: Brewing corruption in Angola

In previous investigations I examined how members of the Angolan government went into partnership with the multinationals Castel Group and SABMiller in order to gain control of the drinks market in the country. This article looks at the case of UNICER, the main beverage manufacturer in Portugal. The multinationals in the drinks sector have developed a keen interest in the Angolan market, which is the third biggest beer consumer in Africa. Foreign investors seeking a way into Angolan markets need to follow two fundamental rules. The first involves setting up business partnerships with powerful figures in the regime; the second involves ignoring the relevant legislation, relying on the impunity of government leaders. UNICER’s business partners are the current Ministers of Industry and of Petroleum, respectively Joaquim David and José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, as well as the Governor of Benguela Province, General Armando da Cruz Neto and the former President […]

Read more

MPLA, Corporation

During the ruling MPLA’s Central Committee meeting in Luanda, in November 2009, President José Eduardo dos Santos defined his challenges facing his party in terms of three fundamental questions: keeping watch on government, the irresponsibility of government leaders, and fighting corruption with a policy of zero tolerance. In this investigation I deal with the transfer of state assets to the MPLA’s private businesses through a company called GEFI (Sociedade de Gestão e Participações Financeiras / Management and Business Participation Company), and the consequences of its involvement in such money-making activities. In order to make clear the gap between the leadership’s words and its deeds, I will analyse those three main questions that Dos Santos, both President of the Republic and leader of the MPLA, put forward during his speech when he opened the party Central Committee meeting on 29 November 2009. Download the full text here.

Read more

The business dealings of Angolan Members of Parliament

It has become common practice for Angolan Members of Parliament to set up commercial companies with members of the government and with foreign investors for personal gain, in the same way that they have done with state contracts. This practice potentially creates situations that prevent them from conducting their duties as parliamentarians, as well as conflicts of interest and influence peddling. In short, it risks making corruption an institution inside parliament. On 24 December 2008 the Chairperson of the National Assembly, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, promised during the end-of-year celebrations that members of parliament would play a role in monitoring the government’s actions, as a contribution to good governance and transparency in the country. While the country awaits the result of such a promise, this article reveals a reality that calls for greater attention and monitoring by the Chairperson of the National Assembly and by society at large. […]

Read more

Legal Doubts Over Thales’ Angola Deal

The head of the Angolan state oil company and the country’s ambassador to France have entered into a multi-million euro partnership with the French defense company Thales to supply communications equipment to the Angolan military. Angolan anti-corruption legislation appears to prohibit the two officials’ participation in the deal. In January 2009, the Council of Ministers of Angola awarded two contracts, worth a total of 141,6 million Euros, to a joint venture between the Thales Group and a shell Angolan company, Sadissa, for the supply of a new system of communications to the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). Thales was previously implicated in the corruption case that lead to the conviction in 2005 of a South African businessman Schabir Shaik, on charges that included soliciting a bribe from Thales on behalf of the then South African Deputy President, and now President, Jacob Zuma. The Angolan contracts, with the official references 38/DM/03/SST/08 and […]

Read more

The influence-peddling of Grupo Gema

When Pope Benedict XVI visited Angola in March 2009, President José Eduardo dos Santos made a speech in which he proclaimed the virtues of private economic initiative. He called on Angolan businesspeople and shareholders to invest in projects of national interest “that seek to combat unemployment, poverty, and homelessness, and to improve the goods and services on offer”. Dos Santos nevertheless emphasised the need to keep private business separate from state business. He said he was ready to fight against the misappropriation of public goods by state functionaries. Grupo Gema has been one of the fastest-growing private initiatives over the past few years in Angola. It controls part of the drinks market in Angola through its partnership with SABMiller in Coca-Cola Luanda Bottling, and through its role in Ucerba, which is a major shareholder in the country’s biggest breweries: Cuca, Nocal and Eka.  In the petroleum sector the group, through […]

Read more

Presidential Self-Dealing Has Corrupted Society

In August, I sent a letter to the President of the Republic, in which I drew attention to the fact that the Attorney General of the Republic was breaking the law by serving as managing director of various private firms, something that is incompatible with the office that he holds. Several people have asked me about the lack of a response from the Head of State and Government regarding these complaints. My response has been that one cannot and should not expect any positive reaction from the President of the Republic concerning corruption and respect for the law. I argued that José Eduardo dos Santos embodied the same practices of conflating public duties with private interests, which he himself had condemned as the worst evil of his government. I also stated that disregard for the law was common practice for Dos Santos. In response to these questions, I present a […]

Read more

The Business Dealings of the Attorney General

His Excellency President of Republic Hon. José Eduardo dos Santos Excellency, As an Angolan citizen, who has been monitoring the acts of your government, I write to you to express my deepest concern with the institutional silence over the recent public denunciation of the attorney general’s co-ownership of, and managerial duties in the private company Imexco. Excellency, I would like, first and foremost, to explain the rationale for bringing this case to your direct attention. According to current legislation, the Attorney General’s Office is subordinate to the President of the Republic, as Head of State (…).” The same law establishes that the President of the Republic gives direct instructions to the attorney general, which must be complied with. Excellency, You have insisted, throughout the years, on the need for the authorities to stem corruption and the abuse of power by public office holders, and for public office holders to act […]

Read more
1 42 43 44