A New Angolan President

On September 21 we will have a new president, after 38 years with José Eduardo dos Santos. The National Electoral Commission has named João Lourenço president-elect, without legally validating the votes in 15 of the 18 provinces. The MPLA, already in power for 42 years will continue to rule for a further five-year term. Anyone who things that the law is worth when MPLA’s leaders’ interests are at stake, is mistaken. It is worth taking a look back at the history of presidential power in Angola and its popular legitimacy. In 1975, Agostinho Neto became president through the unilateral declaration of independence, after expelling the other liberation movements, FNLA (led by Holden Roberto) and UNITA (led by Jonas Savimbi), from Luanda. The three movements had formed a transitional government, and the process of declaring independence ought to have happened only after elections were held. Instead, the most cunning and strategic […]

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Angolan Opposition Unites to Challenge ‘Illegal’ Election Results

Four Angolan opposition parties have jointly declared that the results of the 23 August election announced by the National Electoral Commission were illegal and unconstitutional. In a joint statement issues on Sunday, UNITA, CASA-CE, PRS and FNLA stated they would not recognize “any results produced on the margins of the law”. The party leaders demanded a recount at provincial level “on the basis of the law and the constitution”. They declared that only three of Angola’s 18 provinces, Cabinda, Uíge and Zaire, had processed the election results in accordance with the Electoral Law. “The supposed count was limited only to checking the spoiled, blank and contested ballots. The process became even more shady with the disappearance of ballot boxes, the emergence of new ballot boxes, the disappearance of votes, and other irregularities,” the opposition leaders declared. The party leaders, who were also the presidential candidates of their respective parties, said […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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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 […]

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BAI: The Regime’s Banking Laundromat

In recent years, the Angolan financial market has been led by Banco Africano de Investimentos – BAI (African Investment Bank), a banking institution previously named Banco Angolano de Investimentos (Angolan Investment Bank). To a certain extent, the shareholding structure of the bank reflects its success as well as the institutionalization of public assets’ transfer to public officials, for their illicit enrichment. Praised at US $8 billion, BAI currently holds a portfolio of deposits and credits estimated, by the Angolan National Bank, at US $10.4 billion and US $3.2 billion, respectively. At its inception, in 1996, Sonangol was BAI’s main investor, with 18.5 percent of its shares. Over the years, Sonangol quietly transferred 10 percent of its shares to the private ownership of high-ranking officials, besides the ones who, from the start, already owned considerable shares of the banks stock. By way of illustration, the table below shows only the list […]

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The business dealings of Angolan Members of Parliament

It has become common practice for Angolan Members of Parliament to set up commercial companies with members of the government and with foreign investors for personal gain, in the same way that they have done with state contracts. This practice potentially creates situations that prevent them from conducting their duties as parliamentarians, as well as conflicts of interest and influence peddling. In short, it risks making corruption an institution inside parliament. On 24 December 2008 the Chairperson of the National Assembly, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, promised during the end-of-year celebrations that members of parliament would play a role in monitoring the government’s actions, as a contribution to good governance and transparency in the country. While the country awaits the result of such a promise, this article reveals a reality that calls for greater attention and monitoring by the Chairperson of the National Assembly and by society at large. […]

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