Rafael Marques Receives the Press Freedom Award

(Acceptance speech for the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Hero Award received on June 22 in Abuja, Nigeria.)   When the news of this award reached Angola, many of my countrymen and women posted images of me as Wakanda’s Black Panther on their social media. This award is not for me. It mirrors the hopes of many Angolans that changes will not come simply from political decision-making, but from a growing awareness amongst and stand from civil society. Looting of the state, human rights abuses, corruption and political contempt for the suffering of the people are the main ills of the Angolan society where the powerful take away what rightfully belongs to everyone and trample on others’ lives. The investigative journalism I’ve engaged in through Maka Angola in a hostile environment has spearheaded the renewal of hopes that among ordinary Angolans a force for good can be reckoned with. […]

Read more

Prosecuting the Messenger, Absolving the Corrupt

Angola’s public prosecutor, Pedro Pederneira, calls for my conviction for the crimes of insulting a public authority and speaking against the state security (June 15). He wants me in jail for writing that former President José Eduardo dos Santos protected the corrupt. This is the crime against the state security. The public prosecution office recently charged Dos Santos’ son, José Filomeno dos Santos, and his accomplices for the looting of US $500 million from Angola’s central bank. The looting had been authorized by the father weeks before he stepped down in September last year. Last January, I was the very first to expose the whole scam at home. So, where is the crime against the state security? I supplied the court with plenty of evidence on past cases in which Mr. Dos Santos engaged and protected the corrupt, and the then-attorney general never replied to many of my formal complaints […]

Read more

Lourenço’s “Flying Palace” and a Coconut Head

Following his 11-day European tour, Angolan president, João Lourenço, arrived home with a staggering flight bill. He spent several million dollars on a US $74,000 an hour luxurious “flying palace” that transported him the whole time, while preaching anti-corruption at home. The distinguished Ghanaian economist and activist, George Ayittey, has a name for this kind of a leader: a coconut head. For Ayittey, a coconut head is a leader, who, rather than run his country ruins it through folly and depraved indifference to the suffering of ordinary people. Many Angolans saw the social media images of the world’s only private US $350 million Boeing Dreamliner 787 VVIP ostentatiousness. Owned by the Chinese  HNA Group, this plane is the world’s largest luxury business charter. Few wanted to match it with the plane that took President Lourenço to state visits in France and Belgium, as well as a private visit to Spain. […]

Read more

The Runaway Plaintiff Making a Mockery of Justice in Angola

In my professional career, I stood trial three times due to my exposés on the powerful elite in Angola. The first time, the plaintiffs were the President and the Attorney General (AG). The second time, I took on eight generals in a bundle as the plaintiffs. Now, in a repetition of the circumstances of that first trial, the plaintiffs are once again that former president and his AG. Each of these trials takes place in an alternative reality in which fiction trumps fact: as though drawing attention to their behavior is more offensive than the offenses themselves. Now, for the third time as of April 16, 2018, Luanda Provincial Court has a runaway plaintiff making a mockery of justice. Judge Josina Ferreira Falcão decided that the date of the trial must be moved to April 24, and the location to the Office of the Attorney General (AG) of the Republic, […]

Read more

The Half-a-Billion-Dollar Scam of Espírito Santo Bank in Angola

In the plunder that has been carried out in Angola, little has been said about the extraordinary role of Portuguese facilitators – especially bank executives, lawyers and intermediaries – in setting up related operations. Little is also said about the extremely harmful role they play in Angola, while pretending to be above reproach. Maka Angola brings to light the US $518.5 million operation orchestrated in 2013 by José Fernando Faria de Bastos, a Portuguese lawyer living in Angola, and Rui Guerra, a Portuguese citizen and then-CEO of Banco Espírito Santo Angola (BESA). Let us start on June 28, 2013. On that day, BESA carried out five credit operations to five shell companies totalling US $379 million. This operation financed the purchase of assets of Espírito Santo Commerce (Escom), 66 percent owned by the Espírito Santo Group (GES) of Portugal, and 30 percent by the Portuguese-Angolan citizen Hélder Bataglia. An addendum […]

Read more

WHO Alarm: Zika Virus on the Rise in Angola

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a health emergency alert about a possible Zika outbreak in Angola, urging the Angola Ministry of Health to immediately begin implementing its planned interventions to minimize the impact. The WHO’s alert is particularly alarming because it is issued in response to a growing number of cases of microcephaly among newborns in Angola particularly in Luanda. Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex. Sometimes detected at birth, microcephaly is usually the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth. An infected pregnant women can transmit Zika to her fetus, which can lead to brain abnormalities. As of 29 November 2017, a total of 42 cases of microcephaly had been reported, of which 39 occurred in live […]

Read more

UNITA Says 14 Provincial Results Invalid

Angola’s largest opposition party, UNITA, has declared that 14 of the country’s 18 provinces have not yet delivered results from last week’s elections in accordance with the law. UNITA’s intervention comes a day after the National Election Commission declared that the provincial verification process had been concluded, following voting on 23 August. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court also ruled against a complaint lodged by the Coalition for the Salvation of Angola (CASA-CE), which also ran in the elections. CASA-CE, like UNITA, demanded that CNE tally the votes in each province according to the electoral law. “The provincial verification carried out in terms of [the law] happened only in the provinces of Cabinda, Uíge, Zaire e Malanje,” UNITA’s Political Commission said in a statement issued on Thursday. The statement added that the verification process conducted in two further provinces, Benguela and Moxico, could not be considered conclusive. “In the provinces of Cuanza […]

Read more

Observers Reserve Judgement on Vote Counting Irregularities

International observers to the 2017 elections in Angola have issued positive assessments of the electoral campaign and voting process, but their statements do not mention the vote counting process, which opposition parties have pointed out was conducted in a way that flouted the electoral law. The African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) issued statements on Friday 25 August, two days after the election date. They did not comment on events that took place after the polls closed on 23 August. Although Angolan state media have selectively quoted the observers to create the impression of unequivocal endorsement, the EU and SADC both made clear that their statements were provisional and a final assessment of the elections would be made after the process was completed. The brief EU statement was couched in diplomatic language but hinted at the ongoing controversy over the count, warning […]

Read more

Elections: MPLA Majority Hangs in the Balance

Of the more than 1.1 million votes already counted, the ruling MPLA has 51%, followed by UNITA with 36% and CASA-CE with 11%. These results reflect a parallel count carried out by UNITA based on official copies that it has obtained of the results posted by individual polling stations. Half of the votes already counted are in Luanda. In the capital city the MPLA and UNITA are neck-and-neck with 40% each, followed by CASA-CE with 13.6%. These Luanda results do not include the most populous districts, Viana and Cacuaco, where the opposition is strongest. So far, the count from these districts suggests that UNITA is heading for a large majority. Maka Angola has learned that the National Electoral Commission (CNE) has stopped releasing provisional results, on the orders of the President of the Republic. The MPLA has expressed surprise at the results. If the trend of increasing opposition votes continues, […]

Read more

All Aboard the Gravy Train

Angola’s gravy train has been rumbling along one set of tracks for the past 37 years, with all-encompassing corruption tainting the ruling MPLA party under President José Eduardo dos Santos. Those at the apex of the pyramid have diverted billions of dollars from the economy to their own bank accounts, while ensuring the loyalty of those beneath them by dispensing cash, goods and favors as needed. With just over two months to go to the presidential election that will see a change of leadership, members of the National Assembly (Angola’s parliament) are being given a sign that it will be ‘business as usual’. The National Assembly is chaired by veteran MPLA politburo member, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos “Nandó”. Nandó is a rather sinister character with a smile likened to that of a cat which has just devoured its prey. His official job titles (police chief, Interior Minister, Prime […]

Read more
1 2 3 5