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 […]

Read more

When You Can’t Shoot, Sue!

Recently, the Angolan ruling party MPLA proposed, in Parliament, that the outgoing President and Vice-President be given absolute immunity from prosecution for any crimes they committed while in office. Consequently, within days the regime has launched new indictments against whistle-blower and human rights defender, Rafael Marques de Morais. Rafael Marques de Morais is the fearless, award-winning editor of the online news site Maka Angola. It focuses on  investigating and publishing citizens’ complaints about the all-too-common cases of corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations in oil-rich Angola. He has been a thorn in the side of Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos, who has amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune for himself, his family and his loyal supporters in the ruling MPLA party. Meanwhile, only permitting a trickle of the country’s oil wealth to be used for the benefit of the people he was supposed to serve. Outside Angola, the […]

Read more

All the President’s Children

Are you suffering from corruption fatigue? Yes, it gets to us all. There is just so much of it. Everywhere. Shameless, unethical, immoral, illegal, self-serving behavior is rampant. From the USA to North Korea, it seems few countries are immune to the self-enriching predations of the “one-percenters”. So how should we react to the news that the jobless, student, twenty-something year-old child of an ageing African dictator threw down €500,000 on a charity bid just so he could be photographed alongside some Hollywood stars like Will Smith? Before you yawn and turn the page, consider this. While this pampered princeling was quaffing champagne at the AMFAR gala in Cannes, dozens of his fellow countrymen of all ages were dying unnecessarily for lack of the most basic medicine and medical equipment. That’s because his country’s oil wealth has been siphoned off year after year, leaving little in the state budget for […]

Read more

The President’s State of Health: A State Secret?

It makes you wonder: just how bad is the Angolan President’s health? Things must be grim if the entire state apparatus zips their lips, leaving it to the big man’s tiny grandson (as quoted in a social media posting by his mother Tchizé dos Santos) to tell the world that “vovó” (his grandpa) is “living a normal life”, “watching the TV news” in Barcelona. Really? Is that the best the Dos Santos family’s highly-paid Public Relations firms can do? Is this the MPLA’s strategy for deflecting the growing national anxiety about the state of the man and the nation he has ruled for 37 years? If he’s well and living a normal life, then why is he doing so in Spain instead of at home running his government? The truth, or bits of it, have leaked from multiple sources. At the beginning of this month (May 2017) something happened to […]

Read more

Constitutional Challenge to Angola’s New Media Laws

The main Angolan opposition party, UNITA, is launching a legal challenge to the MPLA government’s latest attempt to gag criticism of the regime. In a petition to the Constitutional Court, UNITA argues that specific clauses of the MPLA media law are simply unconstitutional and calls on the Court to issue a ruling to that effect. The Angolan Constitution, rewritten in 2010, affirms the right to freedom of expression under Article 44 stating explicitly “Freedom of the press is guaranteed, and cannot be subjected to any prior censorship of a political, ideological or artistic nature.” It goes on: “The state will ensure pluralism of expression and guarantee different ownership and editorial diversity in the media. UNITA argues that the Constitution does not contemplate the possibility of any law attempting to restrict the freedom of the press. The current legal set-up makes it impossible for any individual or organization other than a […]

Read more

Portuguese Corruption Trial Snares Angola’s Vice President

The net is closing around Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, the former CEO of the country’s oil giant Sonangol and a man long accused of being a conduit for the diversion of oil revenues into international business deals linked to the Angolan President, his family and close associates. He faces charges in connection with the alleged suborning of a Portuguese prosecutor. Orlando Figueira, in 2013 to set aside an investigation into money-laundering involving the purchase of a US $4 million luxury apartment in Lisbon. Both the prosecutor and Vicente’s lawyer, Paulo Blanco, have also been indicted on charges of violating court confidentiality regarding the investigation into the Angolan subsidiary (BESA) of the Banco de Espirito Santo (BES), which collapsed in 2014. If proven, then by suborning the prosecutor, the Angolans succeeded in interfering with the course of justice in Portugal to prevent any prosecution in the BESA investigation which, by unravelling […]

Read more

Angola’s Christmas Message to Pesky Journalists: Shut Up or Else!

On the eve of the Christmas celebrations in Angola, one of its most prominent human rights defenders, the investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques de Morais, received an unexpected greeting: a summons to present himself at the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Services for interrogation about an alleged “insult” against the country’s Attorney General. The “insult”, an alleged slander, related to the publication of evidence showing that business dealings by General João Maria Moreira de Sousa, Angola’s Attorney General, were contravening both the constitution and the law. The official response was not to take action to verify whether or not the Attorney General’s activities might be in breach of the law, but instead to mount a renewed campaign of persecution against Mr Marques de Morais. When information reached Rafael Marques de Morais that the Attorney General was erecting a condominium on land designated for rural purposes, he quite properly sought […]

Read more

Sonangol’s Billion-Dollar Headache

Evidence has reached Maka Angola that Sonangol’s debts to major oil corporations are far in excess of the US $300 million  owed to Chevron as reported last month. Faced with a Sonangol news release that noted the Chevron monies were “under review” prior to payment, other foreign creditors have grown anxious about the multi-million sums they too are owed. Maka Angola has been supplied with figures showing unpaid cash calls to three other oil majors operating in the Angolan oilfields. They reveal that as of October 2016, Sonangol owed its creditors at over one billion US dollars. To date, Sonangol has only effected payments to companies owned by associates of President José Eduardo dos Santos and his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, the current Sonangol President. President dos Santos sacked the previous Sonangol board and installed his daughter back in June, in a move that shocked the global oil industry given […]

Read more

Diamond Barons Sued for Destruction of Farmland

A ‘war’ between diamond mining interests and locals in northeastern Angola that has resulted in the destruction of 402 privately-owned fields of assorted crops in the last year alone, has forced the area’s traditional chiefs, or Sobas, to file suit against the mining conglomerate and six named individuals. The lawsuit, filed today, seeks redress for actions attributed to the Angolan diamond mining conglomerate, Sociedade Mineira do Cuango Lda. (SMC) and five of its managerial team: Artur Jorge Gonçales (President of the Board), Victor Nunes (Logistics and Security Manager), Filipe Luis (Administrative and Financial Manager), Mike Weir (Operations Director) and Firmino Valeriano (Deputy Operations Director). The complaint alleges criminal behaviour, including extortion and theft, and the violation of individuals’ property rights under Article 37 of the Constitution, and demands action by the Attorney General’s office to institute criminal proceedings against those responsible. SMC is accused of ordering the systematic destruction of […]

Read more

Higher Education in Angola is not in Safe Hands

Since Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, the overall number of students in higher education has risen more than tenfold to over 140,000 but have educational standards kept pace? Some suggest they have not; that quantity should not be confused with quality. No less a figure than General João Lourenço, the MPLA Vice-President and Defence Minister, said in a speech to the academic community this month that institutions of higher education should not exist just to train the masses. He referred openly to the need for higher quality in Angola’s institutions of higher education and added that merit should be rewarded. It is remarkable that João Lourenço chose to highlight the concept of merit when this has not been high on the list of attributes required for appointments under José Eduardo dos Santos’s regime. Up to now nepotism, affinity and servile obedience have been more likely to secure an academic […]

Read more
1 2 3