The Death Knell for Freedom of the Press in Angola

January 23, 2017 will go down in the annals of Angola as the day on which freedom of the press died. This was the day Angola’s new media legislation was published – a basket of five individual laws introducing a regulating body and stringent controls on journalists, the internet, the press, radio and television broadcasting. The new media laws have been rushed into being six months ahead of crucial presidential and parliamentary elections this year and it is feared their purpose is to ensure that the only information allowed to reach the Angolan public, toes the ruling-MPLA’s party line. In a page straight out of the German Nazi propaganda playbook dreamt up by Carl Schmitt, the new rules and regulations are so general and ambiguous that their interpretation depends on case-by-case ruling by the minister, a judge or similar. Freedom of the Press henceforth will depend on the individual whim […]

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Isabel Spells Danger for Angolan Banks

When the United States warns of the risks of handing control of Angola’s banks to politically exposed people (i.e. President José Eduardo dos Santos, his family members, and the Generals who back him), this is not an idle warning. It’s because the USA know the President is planning to transfer control over the BFA (Banco de Fomento Angola) to his daughter, Isabel, and that once he does so, the Presidential group’s control over almost the entire Angolan banking system will be in place. How so? According to African Business Magazine’s list of Africa’s Top 100 Banks in 2015, the five largest banks in Angola were: Banco Económico (BE – Economic Bank), Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI – Angolan Investment Bank), Banco de Poupança e Crédito (The Savings and Credit Bank), Banco de Fomento de Angola (BFA – Development Bank of Angola) and Banco BIC (BIC – The International Credit Bank). […]

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Incompetence and Corruption Sinks Angola’s Development Bank

Angola’s state-owned banks, businesses and investment funds are all reportedly in trouble: either loss-making or on the brink of bankruptcy. The state oil giant, Sonangol, is floundering amid unpaid debts amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars; the crisis at the Credit and Savings Bank (the BPC, Banco de Poupança e Crédito) has led to a clean sweep of the board; and far from accumulating interest, the Angolan Sovereign Fund is losing hundreds of millions. The common denominator to their misfortunes is – according to the government – the disastrous plunge in oil prices. Not so, say economic analysts in Angolan and beyond. They say the drop in the price of oil simply uncovered factors that would send any business anywhere to the wall. The interruption to the flow of petrodollars made a continued cover-up of endemic corruption and incompetence impossible. All of a sudden their clandestine existence was revealed, […]

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Supersonic Nepotism: Illegalities at the Speed of Light

Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos, has just appointed his daughter Isabel dos Santos as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the state oil giant, Sonangol.  He had already appointed her half-brother, José Filomeno dos Santos, back in 2012 as Chairman of the Board of the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund.  This means that the country’s sovereign fund and the state’s main source of income are now both in the hands of children of the President. In plain English, this is the very dictionary definition of nepotism: ‘the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them top jobs’.  No doubt there will be many analyses and critiques of Angola’s particular brand of nepotism but from the strictly legal point of view there is one indisputable conclusion to be drawn:  President dos Santos’s actions are unconstitutional and illegal. Unconstitutional and illegal The Angolan […]

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The Chimera: A Case for the Angolan Legal System

In 1982, faced with irreconcilable internal problems, the Argentinian dictator, Leopoldo Galtieri, decided to employ diversionary tactics and invaded the Falkland (Malvinas) islands, a British overseas territory. Once the initial excitement had died down, the dictatorship inevitably collapsed. At the moment, the Angolan panorama bears a marked resemblance to the Argentinian panorama of 1982. In addition to the crisis of prolonged power due to the complete breakdown of State institutions, there is a deep economic and financial recession, in which the symbol of power and wealth in Angola, Sonangol, arises like a giant with clay feet, on the brink of collapse, with all the appearance of having been the subject of complete mismanagement (to say the least). Faced with this situation, the president, more adept than the dictator of the Galtieri farce, fostered a chimera. It is not a coup d’état, it is not an attempted coup d’état, rather it […]

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Putin-Style Presidential Decree Ends NGO Independence in Angola

Civil society in a democratic state is generally defined as the space filled by   non-governmental organisations and institutions that represent citizens’ interest and the public will and which are independent from the state. Hegel, the philosopher of the modern state, considered that civil society, with all its differences, made the nation state more efficient. If Angola is consolidating its democracy under the 2010 Constitution, Presidential Decree 74/15 of 23 March 2015, which regulates non-governmental organisations (NGOs), raises a matter of grave concern. This decree echoes the legal technique used by the Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, who in 2012 introduced legislation obliging foreign NGOs to register with the Foreign Ministry as “foreign agents”. This effectively turned all NGO staff into hypothetical “spies”. The Angolan presidential decree includes a series of provisions that make it practically impossible for NGOs to work in an independent and impartial manner as the representatives of civil […]

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