Activist’s trial highlights Angola’s reputation for nepotism and corruption


Angola’s new government must tackle the country’s reputation for nepotism and corruption, both at home and abroad, analysts suggest.

President João Lourenço has made a positive start in challenging the ruling kleptocracy, the Economist argues, but the $640bn question is whether his anti-corruption drive is real.

Yet some of his critics suggest that Lourenco is not moving as quickly as he might and question his commitment to eradicating the corruption and cronyism so rampant under the dos Santos regime. Some argue that his tenure so far has been more about consolidating power than dealing with Angola’s entrenched problems.

In fact, Lourenço’s inner circle has initiated a new phase of grand corruption, notes Rafael Marques de Morais (above). Recently, the creation of a new public-private air company, Air Connection Express, was announced to take over the entire domestic market from the national carrier TAAG, he writes for Maka Angola:

The minister of state and head of the President’s Intelligence Bureau, General Pedro Sebastião, his deputy and president’s brother, General Sequeira João Lourenço, as well as minister of state and the president’s chief of Staff, Frederido Cardoso, are among the select cast of freeloaders or, formally, shareholders of the new company. The state has provided the sovereign guarantee for the purchase of six Canadian Bombardier Q400 planes, for US $143 million.

Angola is one of a number of cases that typically involve helping the rich and powerful salt away gains from activities that are clearly illegal, but for which they are unlikely to be prosecuted at home, the Guardian reports in a must-read analysis of money-laundering:

Recent examples include the looting of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, the sale of valuable mining concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo in exchange for bribes paid to its president, the government-sanctioned theft of state assets by Russian oligarchs or, in what has become known as the Magnitsky case, the acquisition of wealth by public officials through a complex tax fraud.

Rather than being dispirited, I am back in court with a renewed sense of duty, adds Morais, who received the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2017 Democracy Award:

The way this regime has driven many Angolans into the earth, lays a heavy weight upon my conscience. It wages war on my sense of belonging as a citizen of this country. I am here to fight back. Angola should not be the land of the corrupt and wicked leaders. As Winston Churchill had it: “It is the courage to continue that counts.”

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