Angola Elections 2022: Trouble Ahead?

Angola’s 2022 election seemed to go well. International observers dubbed the poll ‘free and fair’ and the official election organizer, the Comissão Nacional Eleitoral (CNE), declared the MPLA the victor with just over 51% of total votes cast. This official result was immediately challenged by the main opposition party, UNITA, amid allegations of inconsistencies in the count and procedural irregularities by the CNE itself. The situation risks undermining the all-too-recent gains in democratic freedoms and civil liberties, with opposition supporters taking to the streets to express their anger, feeling cheated of the change they desperately wanted. ————— When on August 29th the CNE announced the official election result, awarding victory to the ruling MPLA, it was immediately challenged by UNITA on the grounds of alleged inconsistencies between the certified polling station tallies and the final count given by the CNE. Initially, the main opposition, UNITA seemed to suggest the numbers […]

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Lourenço Loses Luanda

At long last. For the first time in the history of Angola the coming parliament will be more democratic, more balanced and more representative of ordinary people. It means voters now have an opportunity of getting their concerns heard as part of the legislative process. This is a first. A major victory by and for the people, and a big step towards turning Angola into a real democracy in practice and not just on paper. The 2022 elections will be remembered for the humiliating defeat of President João Lourenço’s party in Luanda, the Angolan capital, where a third of the 14 million strong electorate live. It was an unequivocal rejection of his party’s government and policies after 47 uninterrupted years of one-party rule by the MPLA. Late on Thursday, with just over 97% of the votes counted, the National Electoral Commission announced its provisional tally: the MPLA had won with […]

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Audit Court Splashes Millions on Luxury for Boss

How did the President of Angola’s Court of Auditors manage to afford a home worth almost eight million US dollars? Allegedly by getting the State to pick up the bill. Whistle-blowers say Exalgina Gambôa should have the decency to step down while the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic conducts a criminal investigation. This latest scandal makes a mockery of the Angolan government’s promise to fight corruption: it shows how the highest-ranking public officials – even those appointed to uphold the law – can abuse it with impunity by making use of their rank and privilege to divert state funds for private ends while still avoiding investigation and prosecution for corruption.For too many years Angola’s predatory political class has operated on the assumption that prestige positions in public service grants them the right to live in unparalleled luxury with all expenses charged to the state. The expectation of privileges […]

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Angolan Corruption Case Snares Irene Neto

Really? Carlos Manuel de São Vicente is currently a jailbird. On September 23 he was remanded in custody in Viana prison (Luanda) awaiting trial, where conditions might soon make him forget his ill-gotten billions. One by one, the bit-part players in the Dos Santos kleptocracy are being taken down, evidence of their crimes adding up against the long-ruling kleptocrat-in-chief who oversaw the outrageous theft of tens of billions of dollars of Angolan patrimony. It’s no easy matter to bring a former president to justice – especially one who secured a permanent amnesty for his actions – but the wheels of justice are turning inexorably towards his family, friends and former colleagues. Angola’s first President, Dr Agostinho Neto, must be spinning in his grave. None other than his own daughter and son-in-law’s names have been added to the long, LONG, list of “illustrious” Angolan politicians and officials accused of corruption, embezzlement […]

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MONEY FOR NOTHING (PART TWO)

Multi-billion-dollar deals between the government of Angola and the US corporate giant General Electric for showpiece rail and energy infrastructure projects are under investigation after reports of scandalous “irregularities” involving an intermediary company. As reported by Maka Angola, the projects were all part of a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by GE and the Angolan government in 2013.  Two years later, three separate contracts by which these proposals would be executed were drawn up by Aenergy (Aenergia, S.A.) acting as GE’s intermediary or “channel” partner, whose legal owner is Ricardo Leitão Machado, a Portuguese national.   This was how the former Angolan administration did business with the world.  Under President José Eduardo dos Santos, foreign investors and businesses were required to enter into partnership with the Angolan private sector.  All too often, these were companies with nominal owners shielding the involvement of politically exposed persons whose primary goal was to divert […]

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Money for Nothing

Over the past 20 years Angola has been bilked of billions of US dollars earmarked for public projects that delivered little or no actual benefit to the country.  And an investigation by Maka Angola into a long-promised revamp of the country’s railway system, suggests the government is still being conned into handing over millions of dollars on schemes that fail to materialize. OFF THE RAILS For two decades under former President dos Santos, Angola repeatedly awarded multi-million-dollar contracts for complex projects to ‘johnny-come-lately’ companies with no track record.  Invariably these were shell companies set up by Dos Santos cronies that never had the wherewithal to deliver on their promises.  It was a scam by which the state kleptocrats diverted public funds into their own bank accounts.  Under reformist President João Lourenço, things are supposed to have changed.  But have they? A two-part investigation by Maka Angola into a billion-dollar deal […]

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‘Operation Thunderclap’: At Least Five Dead in Separatist Attack on Angolan Prison

An armed attack on a prison in the north-eastern Angolan province of Lunda-Sul which resulted in the deaths of at least five people, has been blamed on a misguided attempt to free a self-styled independence leader. Responsibility for the attack is said to lie with a man calling himself “Commander Thunderclap” (*see below) who says it is the opening salvo in a liberation war for the independence of the Lundas.  The diamond-rich region comprises twin provinces – North Lunda (Norte) and South Lunda (Sul), largely inhabited by descendants of the Tchokwe nation.  It is no stranger to separatism.  Local communities have long displayed discontent with Angola’s central government.  While politicians, generals and foreign interests have carved out immense fortunes over decades, the lot of local people has not improved since colonial times, leading to simmering resentment and a growing appetite for self-rule.  Zero tolerance for separatism The Angolan authorities are […]

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Unveiling Corruption Is Indeed Donkey Work

A Forbes article once obliged Isabel dos Santos by repeating her claim that she was Africa’s richest woman: a self-made billionaire who said she began her mercurial business career by selling eggs in the street on her way to school.  Perhaps she did sell eggs, once upon a time though knowing the origins of her later seed capital does make you wonder who it was that owned the hens.  And I can guarantee there was no egg selling in the streets around Brook Green, London when the daughter of Angola’s then President was attending the US$ 15,000 a year fee-paying St. Paul’s Girls School.   Isabel has an affinity for the British capital which is a favoured destination for the world’s money launderers. With her husband Sindiko Dokolo, she owns (via a shell company) at least one multi-million-dollar property in an exclusive gated community in the Royal Borough of Kensington […]

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Angola’s San Community under Threat from Burning Forests

In many parts of Angola the end of the cooler, dry season known as ‘cacimbo’ is traditionally the right time for burning brush. Fire clears the land ready for planting ahead of the rainy season, produces the charcoal on which many families still depend for their cooking fuel, and sends wildlife into the path of hunters. But unregulated and uncontrolled, this practise is one of the major factors leading to widespread deforestation in the most remote southeastern corner of Angola, where hundreds of kilometres of virgin forest are on fire, threatening the very existence of the San people. The San, dubbed “Bushmen” by the European colonizers of the region, are the descendants of some of the most ancient peoples on Earth. Their forefathers have roamed the southern African forests for tens of thousands of years. To this day the San communities follow their ancestors’ tradition of living in harmony with […]

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NO MAGIC – ANGOLA’S BANKING SYSTEM IS JUST SMOKE AND MIRRORS

What happened to the US $2 billion injection of funds from Angola’s central bank (BNA) in 2014 that was supposed to refinance the Banco Económico (BE) as it emerged from the ashes of the failed Banco Espírito Santos (BESA)? Surely José de Lima Massano must have some idea? He was Governor of the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) then and is again now. Did he keep track of where the money went? Because the BE is failing again and he seems all too ready to throw good money after bad: ordering majority shareholder Sonangol to inject a further US $1.2 billion of public money into it. So who does this bailout benefit? Mr. Massano is the master magician tasked by President João Lourenço with restoring good governance to the Angolan banking system. Is he not up to the job? Or is he actively sabotaging it? According to Diamantino de Azevedo, […]

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