Lifelong Immunity from Prosecution for the President

It is right and proper that anyone who has served as head of state or government should be accorded due honors upon exiting the job. The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of democracy and those who have reached the pinnacle and who willingly step aside when their time is up, are rightfully guaranteed some special treatment for the rest of their days. It’s a mark of respect for their service. With the prospect of a voluntary exit for José Eduardo dos Santos, who has held power in Angola for an astonishing 37 years, few would be so churlish as to deny the man who likes to call himself “the Architect of Peace” the consolations of orderly retirement. What is customary around the world? No doubt his name will emblazon important civic works. Perhaps he is granted an annual pension and a security detail for life. Perhaps the state […]

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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 […]

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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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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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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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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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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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Unmasking the MPLA’s Very Own Apostle

Angolans witness every day that rewards flow to those who are faithful to the ruling party, the MPLA. Yet many in this nominally Christian nation might have hoped that men of the cloth would be immune to the lure of political corruption. Apparently not so. How else to explain Reverend Antunes Huambo’s recent good fortune? One day he happens to mention during a TV debate that Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Within days, the MPLA Governor for Luanda, General Higino Carneiro, appoints Reverend Huambo to the position of Administrator of the Urban District of the University City. Reverend Huambo’s devotion to the MPLA, which has held power for the past 41 years, can be assessed from remarks he made in December: “The red in the MPLA flag symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ”. And this: “The MPLA is the party blessed […]

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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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Africa: Stereotypes and Western Media Brownie Points

On Saturday, Angolans were expecting an official announcement from the ruling MPLA party (which has held power for 41 years) that President José Eduardo dos Santos would not be running in the 2017 elections. Word had already been leaked to the international media who duly reported this development to the world at large – and yet inside Angola there was still no official confirmation. Not a word from the ruling party, the President or the state-controlled media. The Angola story was paired with that of the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, who formally conceded defeat in the presidential elections after 22 years in power. It was heralded as a strand of an emerging trend: one ailing African dictator, Dos Santos, peacefully deciding to leave office (after holding power for 37 year) while another, Jammeh, graciously accepted he has lost a democratic election. Subsequent events suggest the mainstream international media were far […]

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