Sonangol on the Brink

Putting the President’s daughter in charge of Angola’s national oil company has been such a ‘good move’ that the company is now reported to be on the brink of bankruptcy. The ‘genius’ businesswoman and her cabal of Portuguese consultants have succeeded only in a level of mismanagement greater than ever before. And so it has come to pass that the state monopoly that controls Angola’s main source of income is now reduced to the role of beggar. Maka Angola is reliably informed that on May 17 Isabel dos Santos went to see the Finance Minister, Archer Mangueira, to request an injection of three billion dollars (!!) to rescue Sonangol from imminent bankruptcy. A source close to the Portuguese consultancy firm which has been the de facto administrator of Sonangol on behalf of Isabel dos Santos, told Maka Angola that the Minister had to inform the President of the Sonangol Board […]

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The Power Behind Cabinda’s Power Stations

Why would Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos issue a presidential decree (25/17) in February this year to award an estimated US $200 million r contract for a 100 Megawatt bi-fuel power station in Cabinda to an unknown entity named “Vavita Power S.A.”? It’s a sweet deal: as spelled out in that presidential decree, it is a renewable 25- year arrangement accompanied by purchase guarantees, thanks to an Energy Acquisition Contract (Contrato de Aquisição de Energia, CAE) that obliges future governments to buy whatever energy is produced for the National Grid (Rede Nacional de Transporte, RNT). So far as industry experts have been able to ascertain, Vavita is what they call a ‘ghost’ company, based in the central headquarters of a bank with no branches. They wonder why Angola’s President would entrust an unknown company with the task of constructing and operating another dual-fuel thermoelectric power station for Cabinda. Although […]

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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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Stealing with Presidential Decrees

When Angola’s President decreed in 2012 that the north-western enclave of Cabinda should have a deep-water port, it was heralded as a private sector deal that wouldn’t cost the Angolan state a single cent. The estimated US $540 million construction costs would be funded by private investors and banks. For once, there was no Angolan public sector involvement contemplated. That proved to be a chimera. In fact, the entire Caio Port (Porto de Caio) concept seems to have been a vanity project involving the President’s son, José Filomeno dos Santos known as Zenú and his very close friend and financial mentor, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. And sadly, the project is bleeding millions upon millions of dollars from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund controlled by Zenú. A very ‘private’ port The proposal for Cabinda’s deep water port at Caio was first announced in a 2012 presidential decree as a wholly private-sector […]

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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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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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Rescuing the Angolan Economy

President José Eduardo dos Santos admits Angola is running out of money but he has yet to outline any sort of rescue plan.  Is Angola teetering on the precipice of economic disaster?  Or is it already in the abyss? In spite of international entreaties to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on imports, the MPLA government has so far failed to make meaningful changes to ensure self-sufficiency.   So if the national bank has run out of money to pay for imported goods, what is the alternative? How can the government guarantee a continued supply of food to the Angolan people?  Are they to starve? Can the President tell us where he expects to find the resources to avert calamity? With Angola already having to service billion dollar loans, the President may have run out of collateral. Clearly his generation of governing officials won’t have to bear the burden of […]

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The Road to Dialogue or Things Fall Apart in Angola

Last Friday, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution paving the way for Angola to be promoted from a low to middle income country by 2020. This resolution is cause for celebration by the government, for it is an international endorsement of its stewardship of the country. From 2003 to 2013, the country’s oil revenues reached over US $450 billion, according to Angolan economic estimates, and for a decade it ranked among the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Meanwhile, the timing of the UN resolution seems to be a twist of irony for ordinary Angolan citizens. It comes at a time when the bust of the oil fueled economic boom is all too evident on the supermarket shelves, and poverty is on the rise. Food shortages are becoming severe in parts of the country, while in the capital retailers are imposing rationing of certain products. […]

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Angola’s Sovereign Fund Pays US $100 Million to a Shell Company

On 22 January 2015, Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (FSDEA) transferred the sum of 9 948 750 000 kwanzas (equivalent at the time to US$100 million) to the company Kijinga S.A. This company is nothing more than a shell company set up as a front for shady transactions by Banco Kwanza Invest (BKI), a bank created by the 36-year-old José Filomeno dos Santos “Zenú”, the current chair of the FSDEA and the son of the President of the Republic. Kijinga S.A. shares an office with BKI at 150 Avenida Comandante Jika, next to the Maternity Hospital in Luanda. This address has only one business door, which opens into a small waiting room where there is a reception area and two chairs for visitors. One of these chairs is usually occupied by a security guard, in addition to the guard on duty outside the door. The windows are darkened glass, which does […]

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Dos Santos’ Son Shapes His Own Government

Speculation has been growing during the last few months on how José Filomeno dos Santos “Zenú”, one of the sons of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos “Zedú”, is being positioned as his successor to the presidency. What is not common knowledge is how Zenú has already been participating in the current management of government affairs. A recent example was the appointment, on May 6, of Armando Manuel, then economic advisor to President Zedú and chairman of the Angola Sovereign Wealth Fund, to the post of Finance minister. Initially, Zenú suggested to his father that Armando Manuel be considered for the position of chairman of the board of directors of Sonangol, the national oil company. Sources at the presidency told Maka Angola that José Eduardo dos Santos declined the request. He pointed out to his son the lack of technical capacity and political ability of Armando Manuel to manage the […]

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