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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Greasy Palms in Angola’s Oil Industry

Today Maka Angola can shed light on a relatively clumsy sleight of hand by the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sonangol USA. Step forward Baptista Sumbe, who occupied that position between 1997 and 2009. In 2006, for the sum of US $400,000, Baptista Sumbe and his wife Rosa acquired approximately 550 square meters of land, demarcated as Plot 4, Block 3, Section 11 of the Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. They borrowed $306,000 from the Compass Bank on June 26, 2006 to help pay for it. So far, so legit. But Baptista Sumbe didn’t really need a bank loan. He had already gone knocking on the door of Sonangol USA, the company in which he was Chairman of the Board. On November 1, 2006, Mr and Mrs Sumbe had arranged to borrow from Sonangol USA the sum of US $1,750,000 for their personal use. They […]

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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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40 Years On… The Boys are Back

Shrugging off the legal challenges to her appointment as President of the Board of Director of Sonangol, the President’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, has lost no time in showing how she means to restructure the state oil company.  Her first task has been to recruit 120 Portuguese staff to senior positions. The new recruits will join a further 50 consultants – also mostly Portuguese nationals – currently working as consultants and advisers to Isabel on behalf of the Boston Consulting Group and the Portuguese law firm Vieira de Almeida, who in effect are jointly running the Angolan state firm at this point. The arrival of the Portuguese contingent to take over at the Angolan state oil company raises some interesting points:  firstly, the total absence of any national or international recruitment campaign and the lack of any attempt at dialogue between the managers and workers at Sonangol points to the same lack […]

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Isabel dos Santos Pockets Forbes

U.S.-based business publisher Forbes has formed a partnership with a company controlled by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the Angolan President, to publish a new magazine edition for Portuguese-speaking African countries. Forbes Portuguese Africa will be a joint venture with ZAP, a company in which Ms. Dos Santos has a 70 percent shareholding. Last August, Forbes published information revealing that the President’s daughter had acquired almost her entire Angolan fortune through corrupt means. The announcement comes almost a year after Forbes included Ms. Dos Santos on its list of Africa’s wealthiest people. It assessed her wealth at U.S. $3 billion, making her the richest woman on the African continent. The inclusion of Ms. Dos Santos on the list attracted criticism that Forbes was glorifying a woman who owed her fortune to the political influence of her father, President José Eduardo dos Santos. In response to that criticism, in August, Forbes […]

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Corruption in Angola, Money-Laundering in Portugal and the Impact on Human Rights

Rather than addressing corruption in Africa in general, this brief paper focuses on a particular case study, Angola. The rationale for this analysis lies in the paradoxical combination of the following factors: for the past decade, the country has had the fastest growing economy in the world; it is the third-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa; it ranks among the most corrupt regimes worldwide and has some of the lowest levels of human development. In recent years, the national oil company Sonangol and Politically Exposed Persons (PEP’s) have invested billions of euros in the European Union, particularly in Portugal. On February 14, the National Assembly passed Angola’s 2013 state budget – the largest ever, to the tune of US $69 billion. This unprecedented budget and the country’s steady economic growth have the potential to transform the lives of Angolans. It is estimated that two-thirds of the 19 million Angolans still live […]

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(English) Blood Diamonds: Angolan Generals Defeated in Court Case in Portugal

The Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office dismissed, yesterday, a criminal complaint lodged by nine Angolan generals against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, and the publishing house Tinta-da-China, following the publication of “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola”. Marques’ book, which was published in Portugal in 2011, is a chilling account of systematic human rights abuses by soldiers of the Angolan Armed Forces and guards of Teleservice, the largest private security company in the country. The generals are shareholders of both the diamond mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, and its security contractor Teleservice. The book details several cases of murder with more than 100 victims, and dozens of torture cases with more than 500 victims. The generals alleged that the author defamed and slandered them. However, the Public Prosecutor, having examined the documentation entered into evidence, found that the publication of the book fell within the legitimate exercise of a […]

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Chiefs Denounce Human Rights Abuses in Angola’s Diamond Areas

A delegation of four traditional leaders representing the northeastern provinces of Lunda-Norte and Lunda-Sul provinces delivered today a petition to the Attorney-General of the Republic, general João Maria Moreira de Sousa, denouncing systematic violations of human rights in the diamond areas. The petition asks for the re-opening of a preliminary investigation, archived by the Attorney-General’s office last June, on human rights violations exposed by journalist Rafael Marques in his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. The author lodged a criminal complaint against nine generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) as moral authors of systematic crimes of torture and assassination committed by guards of their private security company Teleservice. The generals, including the minister of State and head of Intelligence, general Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”, are also the owners of private company Lumanhe, the partner of the diamond mining joint-venture Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, in which concession […]

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The Angolans’ Exclusive Building in Estoril Sol

Displays of wealth by nouveau riche Angolans have become legendary in Portugal in recent years. Angolan leaders and their families and business associates have been buying up some of the country’s most opulent properties. A typical case is that of Estoril Sol Residence, a luxury housing complex comprising three buildings of a distinctive and controversial design in Estoril, a coastal suburb of Lisbon. The complex contains some of Portugal’s most expensive apartments, priced at between one million and five million euros per unit. The complex, opened two years ago, is well known as “the Angolans’ building”, since Angolans are the main property owners there, holding title to about 30 apartments. An investigation by Maka Angola has revealed the names of the rich Angolans who own property in Estoril Sol Residence. The Minister of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security, António Domingos Pitra Costa Neto, is the owner of five apartments […]

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