A New Angolan President

On September 21 we will have a new president, after 38 years with José Eduardo dos Santos. The National Electoral Commission has named João Lourenço president-elect, without legally validating the votes in 15 of the 18 provinces. The MPLA, already in power for 42 years will continue to rule for a further five-year term. Anyone who things that the law is worth when MPLA’s leaders’ interests are at stake, is mistaken. It is worth taking a look back at the history of presidential power in Angola and its popular legitimacy. In 1975, Agostinho Neto became president through the unilateral declaration of independence, after expelling the other liberation movements, FNLA (led by Holden Roberto) and UNITA (led by Jonas Savimbi), from Luanda. The three movements had formed a transitional government, and the process of declaring independence ought to have happened only after elections were held. Instead, the most cunning and strategic […]

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Angolan Vote Count Flouted The Rules

Members of Angola’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) have described how the legal procedures for collecting and tabulating the results of Wednesday’s election were flouted by officials who reported favorable results to the MPLA, with no indication of how these results were calculated. Opposition leaders have accused MPLA of inventing the results. The reports of malpractice come as opposition parties release the results of parallel counts, calculated by adding up the results posted at individual polling stations. These parallel counts show the MPLA in first place, but without an outright majority. The CNE began to announce the preliminary election results on Thursday afternoon, before results from the provinces had been approved either at local level or by the National Counting Center. According to the numbers the CNE announced, the MPLA won a majority with 64.57%, more than double the total of UNITA, which was in second place with 24.4%. CASA-CE took […]

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Angolan Muslims Denounce Human Rights Violations

Aisha Lopes, the fashion designer, and her husband Angelica Bernardo da Costa (also known as Mujahid Kenyata) are Angolan nationals who converted to Islam in 1996.   Aisha, a diabetic, was nursing her 26-day-old infant delivered via high-risk Caesarean surgery when security forces raided the family’s apartment at 5 am on December 2 nd , 2016.  More than 20 armed officers from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the security branch burst in and detained her and her baby, along with her 39-year-old husband. Aisha says they ransacked the apartment, seizing computers, phones, more than 200 books, the couple’s bank cards and all the personal documents belonging to the couple.   “They even took my medical reports. They did not leave a single sheet of paper. “ “We are poor and the agents mocked us, saying that the head of the terrorists in Angola had almost nothing of worth in […]

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Refugees: A Sore Point for Dos Santos and Kabila

More than 30,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are housed in two temporary reception camps, Kakanda and Mussunga, in Lunda-Norte province. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that about 500 refugees are arriving in these camps each day. Congolese citizens are continuing to cross the border to escape the current conflict in the Kasai region, which erupted in April last year. Last April, in addition to the refugees, around 180 armed men from the Congolese armed forces and police also escaped from the clashes between government forces and the Kamwina Nsapu militia, according to the data this website received from the local authorities. The same sources say that more than 100 members of the Congolese forces managed to escape the control of the defence and security forces, and ‘disappeared’ in the Angolan town of Dundo, while the rest were repatriated. In the same month, […]

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Lifelong Immunity from Prosecution for the President

It is right and proper that anyone who has served as head of state or government should be accorded due honors upon exiting the job. The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of democracy and those who have reached the pinnacle and who willingly step aside when their time is up, are rightfully guaranteed some special treatment for the rest of their days. It’s a mark of respect for their service. With the prospect of a voluntary exit for José Eduardo dos Santos, who has held power in Angola for an astonishing 37 years, few would be so churlish as to deny the man who likes to call himself “the Architect of Peace” the consolations of orderly retirement. What is customary around the world? No doubt his name will emblazon important civic works. Perhaps he is granted an annual pension and a security detail for life. Perhaps the state […]

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Unmasking the MPLA’s Very Own Apostle

Angolans witness every day that rewards flow to those who are faithful to the ruling party, the MPLA. Yet many in this nominally Christian nation might have hoped that men of the cloth would be immune to the lure of political corruption. Apparently not so. How else to explain Reverend Antunes Huambo’s recent good fortune? One day he happens to mention during a TV debate that Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Within days, the MPLA Governor for Luanda, General Higino Carneiro, appoints Reverend Huambo to the position of Administrator of the Urban District of the University City. Reverend Huambo’s devotion to the MPLA, which has held power for the past 41 years, can be assessed from remarks he made in December: “The red in the MPLA flag symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ”. And this: “The MPLA is the party blessed […]

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Africa: Stereotypes and Western Media Brownie Points

On Saturday, Angolans were expecting an official announcement from the ruling MPLA party (which has held power for 41 years) that President José Eduardo dos Santos would not be running in the 2017 elections. Word had already been leaked to the international media who duly reported this development to the world at large – and yet inside Angola there was still no official confirmation. Not a word from the ruling party, the President or the state-controlled media. The Angola story was paired with that of the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, who formally conceded defeat in the presidential elections after 22 years in power. It was heralded as a strand of an emerging trend: one ailing African dictator, Dos Santos, peacefully deciding to leave office (after holding power for 37 year) while another, Jammeh, graciously accepted he has lost a democratic election. Subsequent events suggest the mainstream international media were far […]

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Angola’s Greatest Work of Fiction: The Budget

A much-lauded cartoon by Angola’s premier pictorial satirist Sérgio Piçarra recently depicted the state of the country’s economy, thanks to José Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s President for the past 37 years. In his depiction, Angola has a ‘Real Economy’, and a ‘Virtual Economy’, but there is an even third one, the ‘Fictitious Economy’. It’s a reflection of a truth: every year the Angolan state budget (Orçamento Geral de Estado) is a mixture of the actual (real), anticipated (virtual) and the ‘only on paper’ (fictitious) spending for the year ahead. Now insiders say the 2017 Budget strays even further from reality than usual. One example: Angola expects to spend more than 1.7 billion kwanzas (US $6.5 million) on maintenance of the memorial to Agostinho Neto, the country’s first post-independence president. The Soviet Union undertook the initial construction of the memorial. However, with the collapse of the USSR, the construction remained […]

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MPLA Gives Opposition a Beating

As Angola prepares for next year’s general election, reports are already emerging of acts of political violence. Representatives of opposition parties attempting to scrutinize the electoral registration process have alleged they were subjected to intimidation and violence in the village of Luremo, in the northeastern province of Lunda Norte. “Village chief Ngana Mussanga, who is an MPLA member, turned up with 20 young men wielding staves. They slapped my face, and then I was grabbed, thrown to the ground where they held me down by my hands and feet while the chief beat me around the head, and the back.” The victim, UNITA member Pedro Muiungulenu Zambicuari, says the incident took place on September 8. The UNITA man had been assigned to check the electoral registration process. “It was barely 8.30 in the morning when the village chief first showed up. He asked my name and where I was from. […]

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The Tyrant’s Dilemma: Stay? No, Please Don’t

He promised he would step down. But the campaign has already begun to re-elect Angola’s President for the past 37 years. “Comrade President, please continue guiding the destiny of our country, asks the nation.” That’s the slogan plastered across the picture of a smiling José Eduardo dos Santos that has appeared on giant billboards in strategic locations across the capital, Luanda, in the past week. It’s all part of a public relations strategy aimed at persuading both Angola and the rest of the world that the increasingly tyrannical MPLA leader really ought to stay in power. Many Angolans were nourishing the faint hope that Dos Santos might be honorable and dignified enough to keep his word that he would voluntarily and peacefully retire from political life in 2018 (by which time he would have spent 39 years as President of Angola). Clearly they were deluded if they thought that a […]

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