Tag Archives: Sonangol

Angola says charges against Vice-President amount to an attack by Portugal


Angola says Portugal decision to charge vice president a ‘serious attack’

LUANDA Angola said on Friday that Portugal’s decision to charge its Vice President Manuel Vicente with corruption and money laundering was a “serious attack” that threatened relations between the two states.

A foreign affairs ministry statement said Angola “considers unfriendly and nonsensical the way the Portuguese authorities conveyed this news which constitutes a serious attack on the Republic of Angola and is likely to disrupt the good relations existing between the two states.”

The prosecutor general’s office in Lisbon last week said it was charging Vicente, who is accused of bribing a magistrate when he was chief executive of state oil company Sonangol.

Vicente is a powerful figure in Angola, Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, but he is no longer seen as a successor to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who said earlier this month he would not run in this year’s presidential election, calling an end to 38 years as head of state.

The ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) approved Defence Minister Joao Lourenco, 62, as its presidential candidate instead of Vicente, at one time seen as the next in line.

Angola is a former Portuguese colony and has branded previous attempts by Portugal to investigate Vicente as “revenge by the former colonial master” and “neo-colonialism”.

Rights groups and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund have frequently raised concerns about graft and the squandering of oil revenues in Angola, where most of the population lives in abject poverty.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Angola – Portugal laying corruption charges against V-P Vicente


Angola Vice President Manuel Vicente -AFP

Manuel Vicente was tipped by some to be Angola’s next president

Portuguese state prosecutors are bringing corruption charges against Angola’s vice-president Manuel Vicente.

The attorney-general’s office says that Mr Vicente paid $810,000 (£650,000) in bribes to shut down corruption investigations that he was facing.

The alleged bribes were made to Portugal’s former public prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who also faces charges as part of “Operation Fizz”.

Mr Vicente’s lawyer has denied the allegations, Portuguese media report.

More on this and other African stories

Elite hoard Angola’s new-found wealth

Mr Vicente served as head of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol from 1999 until 2012, a hugely influential position now occupied by the president’s daughter Isabel Dos Santos.

Until news of the corruption scandal emerged last year, he had been strongly tipped as a potential successor to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979.

The original corruption investigation, halted in 2012, focused on the origin of money Mr Vicente used to buy a luxury apartment in Lisbon, local media reported.
Isabel dos Santos now occupies the post long held by Mr Vicente

The vice-president’s lawyer, Rui Patricio, said his client had not been notified of any charges being brought against him, describing the move as a “procedural violation” which “invalidated the legal process”, local media report.

Portuguese prosecutors say they intend to notify the vice-president of the charges via the Angolan authorities.

Angola has branded previous attempts by Portugal to investigate Mr Vicente as “revenge by the former colonial master” and “neo-colonialism”.

Angola’s political and financial elite have in recent years invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Portugal, Angola’s former colonial ruler.

The investments have largely gone into buying up property and Portuguese companies.

Angola and Nigeria are Africa’s biggest oil producers.

Despite its oil wealth most people in Angola survive on less than $2 a day and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world

Critics accuse President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of being increasingly authoritarian.

Angola – Lourenco new president in waiting



(File photo).

Angola’s Defense Minister Joao Lourenco has been named as the presidential candidate of the country’s ruling party. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has said that he will not seek re-election after 37 years in power.

For the first time in 37 years, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos will not lead his party into the upcoming elections. “The party approved the name of the candidate heading the list in the August elections as Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco (pictured above),” dos Santos stated. Dos Santos is the second longest serving leader on the African continent. Only Teodoro Obiang Nguema, president of Equatorial Guinea, has been in power longer than Angola’s head of state.

Dos Santos has been president of Angola since 20 September 1979. The country has only had one other president, Agostinho Neto, under whom the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

Dos Santos has been dogged by health problems and they have worsened in recent years. His public appearances have become more infrequent, his speeches shorter and his holidays in the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona longer. He has also been undergoing medical treatment in Spain for increasingly prolonged periods. Rumors that he wanted to leave office have intensified over the last few months.

No successor from the family

Angolans have been speculating for years whom dos Santos and the Central Committee of the popular ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) would choose as a successor. Many had expected a member of the dos Santos dynasty. They include the president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who heads the country’s $5 billion (4.7 billion euros) sovereign wealth fund. This was a position bestowed on him by his father. Two other perceived potential candidates were the president’s daughter Isabel dos Santos, who runs Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol, and the deputy president Manuel Vicente, who has close ties to the dos Santos family.

But it has now been decided that defense minister Joao Lourenco is to be the MPLA’s lead candidate for the next elections. This was initially announced by the party’s central committee on December 10 and took many by surprise. Yet it displays a desire for continuity – numerous generals have wielded political influence over Angola in the past. This is part of the dos Santos style of government.

Angolan opposition activist Nuno Dala is critical of Lourenco’s nomination. “Power in the country will remain in the hands of the military because Lourenco is a general,” he said. Dala has experienced first hand what it means to be on the opposing side to Angola’s ruling elites. He spent a year in jail with 16 other members of the opposition because of alleged involvement in a coup. He was released in June.

Joao Lourenco was born in Benguela in southern Angola in 1954. He has been associated with the military throughout his career. He did his military training in the artillery and then became a political officer whose duties included the indoctrination of Angolan soldiers. He received more military training and studied history and related subjects from 1978 to 1982 in what was then the Soviet Union. Equipped with the rank of general, he turned to politics becoming leader of the MPLA in parliament and then deputy president of parliament. He is currently defense minister.

A cleaner candidate

Anti-corruption watchdogs such as Transparency International accuse the dos Santos family of having amassed their fortune corruptly. Joao Lourenco does not face such allegations. He is one of the few Angolan generals and politicians who is free of suspected involvement in major corruption scandals.

“That is certainly to his advantage, because one has the sense that the new president could form an administration which rather less corrupt,” said Dala. “But that doesn’t mean that corruption in Angola will disappear.”

William Tonet publishes the newspaper Folha 8. He is also one of Angola’s best known journalists and doesn’t expect big changes.

Lourenco, he believes, has always been a true son of the party and he won’t alter anything, either because he has compromised himself or he is simply afraid. “So nothing is going to change,” Tonet said.

Parliamentary elections are expected in Angola in mid-2017. Following an amendment to the constitution in 2010, Angolans no longer choose their head of state in a presidential election. The lead candidate of the party that polls the most votes in the parliamentary elections automatically becomes the head of state.

At the last elections in 2012, the MPLA garnered 71.9 percent. International observers maintained, however, that the opposition suffered from disadvantages during the poll.

Could the opposition force the MPLA out of office? Is a repeat of the events in The Gambia earlier this month conceivable? “That does not seem possible, though, of course, in principle, everything is possible if the desire and the need for fundamental change is there,” said Eugenio Costa Almeida, who lectures in political science in Lisbon and Luanda.

“But somebody epitomizing this desire for change would have to step forward,” he added. That person would also have to be a force for political unity. Relations between Angola’s two main opposition parties UNITA and CASA-CE are fractious.

Even though Jose Eduardo dos Santos is stepping down as president, he is not quitting politics. He will remain head of the MPLA up to and beyond the 2017 elections. After all, his family’s not inconsiderable fortune is at stake.

Manuel Luamba in Luanda and Guilherme Correia da Silva contributed to this report.

Angola – Dos Santos daughter cleared by court to head Sonangol

Guardian (Lagos)

By AFP   |   29 December 2016   |   4:56 pm
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 3, 2014 shows Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos attending an art exhibition in Porto, northern Portugal. Now that Isabel dos Santos, Africa's wealthiest woman, has been named head of Angola's oil company she could soon be headed for more power -- but this time in politics, experts say. / AFP PHOTO / PUBLICO / FERNANDO VELUDO

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s daughter, reportedly Africa’s richest woman, has been cleared to head the national oil company Sonangol, after a court rejected a legal challenge.

Isabel dos Santos was put in charge of Sonangol in June in a move some analysts said was the first sign of succession plans for the country’s long-time ruler.

The president, in power since 1979, later announced that he would stand down in 2017, though no successor has officially been named.

His daughter’s appointment was disputed by 12 lawyers who said the law did not allow public officials to nominate family members, but the Supreme Court ruled in her favour on December 22, an official said Thursday.“According to the decision… the appointment of Isabel dos Santos by her father does not violate the law on public probity or the Angolan Constitution,” said David Mendes, a spokesman for the lawyers.

The country’s opposition had equated her Sonangol appointment with nepotism, prompting the legal challenge.

Mendes said the lawyers would appeal the decision at the country’s Constitutional Court.

“The judgement of the Supreme Court has many shortcomings and does not satisfactorily answer the questions we asked,” he said.

Nicknamed the “Princess”, the president’s 43-year-old daughter has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest woman on the continent with a fortune of around $3 billion (2.87 billion euros).

She owns stakes in several companies in Angola and former colonial power Portugal, notably in the banking and telecommunications sectors.

Three years ago the president appointed his son Jose Filomeno dos Santos to chair the country’s $5 billion Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Sonangol has been mired in financial difficulties since the fall in global oil prices. Since her appointment in the summer the president’s daughter has pledged to turn the company around.

Earlier this month Sonangol announced it would not pay dividends to the state this year — a first for the country’s main source of foreign currency.

Angola’s vast oil wealth has not trickled down to the masses and critics accuse both dos Santos and his family of amassing huge wealth by siphoning off state funds.

Angola – the fictional budget

Maka Angola


A much-lauded cartoon by Angola’s premier pictorial satirist Sérgio Piçarra recently depicted the state of the country’s economy, thanks to José Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s President for the past 37 years. In his depiction, Angola has a ‘Real Economy’, and a ‘Virtual Economy’, but there is an even third one, the ‘Fictitious Economy’.

It’s a reflection of a truth: every year the Angolan state budget (Orçamento Geral de Estado) is a mixture of the actual (real), anticipated (virtual) and the ‘only on paper’ (fictitious) spending for the year ahead.

Now insiders say the 2017 Budget strays even further from reality than usual.

One example: Angola expects to spend more than 1.7 billion kwanzas (US $6.5 million) on maintenance of the memorial to Agostinho Neto, the country’s first post-independence president.

The Soviet Union undertook the initial construction of the memorial. However, with the collapse of the USSR, the construction remained incomplete for nearly 30 years. The structure, whose architecture is reminiscent of a rocket, was finally completed in 2012, comprising a mausoleum that contains the remains of President Neto, as well as a small museum displaying some of his effects.

How can the annual maintenance bill for a mausoleum, completed only four years ago, be so high?

Compare the allocation for what locals dub the ‘Rocket’ (“Foguetão” in Portuguese) with the 2017 Budget’s allocation of 826.75 million kwanzas (less than US $5 million) to build four badly-needed and long overdue municipal hospitals for the provinces of Moxico, Cunene, Bie and Kuando Kubango.

How are Angolans meant to interpret the budget priorities? Is one dead Angolan (who happened to be the first post-colonial President and, ironically, was a medical doctor) more important that the health of hundreds of thousands of living Angolans?

When it comes to budgetary matters, Angola is perhaps the only country in the world that has a body called the Commission for the Real Economy. Yes. This actually exists. And answers directly to the President. Wits say this is to remind the president from time to time that there is something other than the virtual and fictional worlds in which he operates.

You see, it is important for the executive branch to be seen to be planning the building of more hospitals, but many of these plans do not get off the drawing board or turnout to be just shoddy health posts. Some may be ‘real’ and construction may indeed get started. Some are ‘virtual’ – the money is allocated but the projects are not yet ready. Others are ‘fictitious’ from the get-go and the money is really intended for other things. A similar situation applies to Education.

The José Eduardo dos Santos University (serving Region V, for 12,000 students from the central highlands and eastern provinces of Huambo, Bié and Moxico) gets an allocation of nearly two billion kwanzas (US $11.9 million), while the universities serving other regions (particularly those of the North and East) are under-funded. Kimpa Vita (Region VII, for 9,000 students from Uige and Kwanza Norte) is only worth some 900 million kwanzas (US $5.4 million) and Lueji A’Nkonde (Region IV, for 10,000 students from Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Malanje) gets even less: about 700 million kwanzas (US $4 million.

From which we can conclude the following: it is worth more to preserve the memory of a former President than to educate Angolan youth – unless they happen to be youth studying at a university named after the current President.

Public sector post-secondary education in Angola can also be classified under the ‘Real’, ‘Fictitious’ and ‘Virtual’ headings. On the one hand you have the ‘real’ education given to the children of the MPLA élite who almost all are funded to study abroad.

Their qualifications are deemed superior to any awarded in Angola (the ‘fictitious’ kind, given the poor standard of teaching and low marks required to gain a degree). That was certainly the official justification given for the nepotistic appointment of the President’s daughter Isabel dos Santos to run the state oil company, Sonangol: that her engineering degree from the University of London somehow made her more qualified.

Then there is the ‘virtual’ kind, whereby some dunce who could only scrape a diploma transforms it into a job that requires degree-level education on the basis of having a ‘sponsor’ within the ruling party machine.

Delivering an authentically high-quality post-secondary education is inimical to the fortunes of the ruling elite, who resent the questioning of their motives (or the origins of their fabulous fortunes) by enquiring minds. Some say the regime can barely scrape together enough brain cells to keep up appearances (the fiction) that they are working on behalf of the Angolan people (virtual reality) rather than to line their own pockets (the real picture).

There is a further possible interpretation: that no-one could be bothered to do the sums to come up with a rational state budget and the whole thing was cobbled together randomly – “à toa” as they say in Angola.

In general, the Angolan Budget has always been a mixture of fact and fiction, a reflection of the contempt shown by the Dos Santos Administration for the Angolan people when it comes to rendering financial accounts.

Even if the figures it contained were properly calculated, even if the capital projects were accurately estimated and certain to be put into effect, the Budget is nothing more than a virtual document, intended to convey high-minded plans while covering up embezzlement on a grand scale by the political elite.

It’s not just a scandal, it’s an insult to the intelligence of the Angolan people – but then that’s just one more virtual insult in 37 years of a government that in reality acts as a kleptocracy while maintaining the fiction of being a functioning democracy.

Angola – MPLA picks leaders ready for 2017 elections


Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) elected new party leaders on Tuesday, including a former army general seen as a front-runner to succeed long-time president José Eduardo dos Santos.

MPLA’s Central Committee elected João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, a retired general and defence minister, as vice president ahead of 2017 parliamentary elections where the leader of the winning party becomes president.

Dos Santos, president of oil-producing southern African nation since 1979, was re-elected party leader over the weekend by an overwhelming majority. But in March he indicated he would be step down by 2018, although he failed to name a successor.

Dos Santos’ billionaire daughter, Isabel, is seen as another potential successor after her appointment by presidential decree to chief executive of state oil firm Sonangol, the main source of government revenues.

The appointment in June was seen by some analysts as dos Santos laying the ground for dynastic, family succession if the president follows through on his indication to step down in 2018.

The party also elected former prime minister António Paulo Kassoma as secretary general of the organisation.

Angola, a member of OPEC and Africa’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria, has been battered by the slump in global crude prices that has dried-up revenues and provoked opposition to dos Santos’ 36-year rule.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana)

Angola – Isobel dos Santos to head Sonangol: fox in charge of the hencoop

Maka Angola

Isabel dos Santos in Sonangol: Fox Put in Charge of the Henhouse
D. Quaresma dos Santos, June 3, 2016

It doesn’t get any more blatant than this. One of Africa’s worst kleptocrats (according to Forbes Magazine and Transparency International amongst others) demonstrates his unshakeable assurance that he does not expect to be called to account.No lessons learnt here from the trial of Hissene Habre.Barely a week after reports emerged that the ‘billionaire’ daughter of Angola’s President of 37 years (and counting) only amassed her fortune in stock acquisition thanks to a nifty diversion of funds from the state-owned oil company Sonangol, who does President José Eduardo dos Santos name to head the Angolan oil giant? None other than his favoured heiress, Isabel. Should Angola now expect Isabel to repay Sonangol the seed money funnelled through front companies Exem Africa and Esperaza Holdings for her shares in the Portuguese oil and gas company GALP? Or is it more likely that she will organize a massive cover up before the international authorities (now alerted to allegations of improper use of state funds and money-laundering) publicly launch an official investigation?After all her father’s repressive regime has managed to ‘lose’ billions upon billions of dollars of state oil revenues over the past two decades. The only Angolans who have seen a peace dividend since the end of the civil war in 2002, are the presidential family and an expanding Angolan elite who, if dos Santos goes down, would go down with him. Only a few weeks ago Isabel’s name was being mentioned as a possible saviour for the UK retail giant, British Home Stores (BHS – now in liquidation). Surely Isabel might have anticipated that UK industry regulators (not to mention the mass media) would be sniffing at her trail? With lawyers ever hopeful that ‘Johnny Foreigner’ might pay over the odds for this tarnished business, the negative publicity and escalating bid expectations scared away the serious contenders like Matalan’s John Hargreaves and Select Fashions’ Cafer Mahiroglu. Cue demise of BHS.Yet who now, outside Angola, would risk their fortune and credibility by getting involved with Isabel? It would be like ploughing millions into a venture with Mobutu Sese Seko’s hapless heir in the twilight of the dictator’s rule. It can’t end well.And what of Isabel’s business partners. Are the Amorim family (and others) starting to feel anxious? At home the first family have bought their impunity. They have everyone who matters in their pockets: from the security apparatus to the politicians, civil servants, judges, state media outlets and every businessman who entered a Faustian pact with the Dos Santos family in order to make a quick buck at the expense of the Angolan people. They have been co-dependent with José Eduardo – if he goes down, they go down with him.But for how much longer? He is ailing and his daughter is unlikely to command the undivided loyalty of the armed forces or security apparatus. There is an inevitable changing of the guard and it is only a matter of time.For four decades José Eduardo dos Santos has been hiding behind a carefully cultivated façade as the shy technocrat, the petroleum engineer thrust into leadership as the compromise candidate after the untimely death of the national hero, Agostinho Neto.Does anyone now doubt that behind the sweet face and timid demeanour was a rapacious and pitiless opportunist who turned comrades into accomplices in crime as he engineered his continued grip on power through a corrupt system of patronage?His power base was built on suborning decent and honourable men and women who had made great sacrifices for the cause. Few could resist his pitch: a grateful nation rewards you for your years of service. Your President has chosen you for a venture or position that will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, guarantee that your children have access to health and education overseas, allow you to live like kings.In return, these grateful courtiers made like the three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Don’t be deceived – they probably knew then (and certainly know now) that the great Angolan con trick couldn’t last forever. Plunging oil prices have them vibrating with anxiety. All the President’s men have their escape plans in place: the second homes in Portugal, South Africa or Brazil; the secret bank accounts scattered around every tax haven in the world. When the going gets tough, dos Santos’s ‘toughs’ will get going.And yet – like so many deluded dictators before him – in these twilight final years, Zedú aims to cement his immortality by forging a dynasty. Insiders in Luanda have been predicting for some time that the imperial succession being planned, would bypass the less-than-stellar sons for the first born. Senior MPLA figures have frequently talked up Isabel’s chances of succeeding her father at the helm. Now he is positioning her at the apex of the money tree that has for so long funded the Dos Santos endeavours.Apparently Sonangol’s new mission statement is “Fazer mais com menos”. Literally, you can translate it as “Do more with less”. Or metaphorically: “Make more profit for ourselves despite lower oil prices”.