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 […]

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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 […]

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A London Law Firm Won’t Stop Us Exposing Those Who Swindle Angola

My job is to investigate and expose human rights abuses and large-scale corruption in Angola. It’s not just my job – I have dedicated my life to this fight for justice in my native land. Inevitably this makes me a target for harassment by the current regime and the judicial system it controls, such as the Criminal Investigation Service (Serviço de Investigação Criminal – SIC) and the Office of Attorney-General of the Republic (Procuradoria-Geral da República – PGR). These minor irritations are part and parcel of the kind of work done by social justice activists the world over. Abroad, in Western democracies such as Portugal, people are often surprised that the Angolan government, which has been repeatedly branded as a dictatorship, doesn’t use violence to the same extent as other dictatorial regimes to silence critics. Perhaps they are unaware that extrajudicial execution is a commonplace event in Angola. I am […]

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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 […]

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Time to Say Goodbye

Thank you, José Eduardo dos Santos, for your decision to step down as President of Angola after 38 years. It’s a decision that gives us all hope for the future. Only Robert Mugabe and Teodoro Obiang Nguema remain of the veteran African tyrants who for so long have choked the life out of their countries. Could your decision inspire them to follow suit and arrange a peaceful transition of power? Naturally, there’s a great deal of speculation as to why you have finally come to the realization that it was time to hand the baton to another. Some say it’s because of poor health. Others say your authority had been undermined by the increasing number of corruption scandals attached to your government. Whatever the reason, the decision is sound and must be as great a relief to you as it is to the Angolan people. Before you go, it’s probably […]

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Band-Aid Needed for Angola’s Red Cross

Maka Angola has learned that the Angolan Red Cross is in considerable disarray. Numerous sources have come forward to allege that the charity is riven by mismanagement and corruption. Allegations of theft, embezzlement and diversion of funds are ignored, while provincial offices and staff are starved of resources and salaries go unpaid. The President of the Angolan Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Angolana, CVA) is Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos, and a reputed billionaire. When installed as CVA President back in 2006, to lead an organization with 140 staff, she announced a commitment to good governance. “The limited resources available to us to tackle such an immense task require very careful management, and oblige us to make the best of what we have, to manage with the utmost rigor and to adopt the principles of good governance. It is important that this administration should be […]

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Oil: A Lesson in Hand-Washing for Daddy’s Girls

Pay attention Ivanka Trump: this is a fun way to ramp up your profits! First you take control of a guaranteed money-maker (or more accurately, your daddy the President hands it to you); then you make sure that you have a majority (or at least hefty) stake in the key partner companies that produce, support or market your products. It’s a no-brainer. All you need is for daddy to win political power and deal you in. This is a true story in a post-truth world. Angola’s first daughter, Isabel dos Santos, is quite peeved that media upstarts dare to question her right (birthright) to have a finger in every succulent pie in Angola’s limited buffet. When accusations of nepotism are aired, when reports document suspicious business dealings, she stamps her pretty foot and sulks: “I am a victim of political intrigue”. Anointed president of the board of the state oil […]

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When Conflicts of Interest Go Unpunished

Why does the Angolan President’s Minister of State and Head of the Intelligence Bureau have a side job as a managing director in Macau, China, in direct contravention of the Angolan Constitution which specifically prohibits such conflict of interest? Documentary proof sent to Maka Angola shows that General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa”, and his wife Luísa de Fátima Geovetty, set up a private company named Baía Consulting Limited based on the 7th floor of the Lun Pong Building at No. 763 Avenida da Praia Grande, in Macau on January 26 this year. The couple are registered as equal partners in the business and also as managers. On the very same day that the company was registered, the General and his wife, issued a power of attorney to the Macau-based lawyer, Barry Shu Mun Cheong, who also happens to own the office where Baía is based. This power of […]

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Oil & Money: Sonangol’s Extravagant Conference in London

Some of the most powerful players in the global oil and gas industry will be meeting in London on October 18-19, for the Oil & Money annual conference. Hosted jointly by the New York Times and Energy Intelligence, the conference is described as a “must attend” – a gathering of “over 450 of the most influential senior decision-makers from the industry, along with government ministers and representatives, financiers and bankers, consultants and legal experts.” The conference agenda boasts of hours of “effective network opportunities…in a crowd large enough to be powerful, small enough to be intimate.” Tickets for the conference cost £2,490 (544,000 Kz), not including attendance at the Petroleum Executive of the Year Dinner which will set you back an extra £525 (115,000 Kz). Who are the sponsors of this lavish affair? The list of donors includes big-hitters like Chevron, ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical but also a host of […]

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Crashing Oil Prices, Propaganda and the Angolan Recipe for Disaster

Throughout the Angolan capital, Luanda, strategically located billboards announce a country being happily stewarded through development by the government. “Building a prosperous Angola based on solidarity”, is the boastful slogan across all ads celebrating the government’s achievements in all spheres of life. One such billboard celebrates “more electricity, more development”, in spite of the regular power outages. Such a massive propaganda exercise outside the electoral period has a precedent only in the early 1970s, when the Portuguese colonial authorities desperately tried to sell the idea that their rule was making people very happy, and independence could ruin all such great achievements. Nonetheless, this propaganda is in full swing at a time when the steady drop in the oil price on international markets could be good news for the Angolan people and a bad omen for their rulers. As a major countermeasure, last December the presidency decreed a 20 percent rise […]

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