Angola’s kleptocracy resisting greater scrutiny


Angola’s reconstruction and oil boom presented the politically connected — those with “relatives in the kitchen,” as Angolans say — with a golden opportunity for self-enrichment. In an economy driven by President José Eduardo dos Santos, his inner circle of family and allies have amassed extraordinary wealth, The New York Times reports:

The president’s eldest daughter, Isabel dos Santos, has become Africa’s first female billionaire, according to Forbes Magazine, which estimates her wealth at $3.3 billion. But as a drop in oil prices has stilled the cranes across Luanda’s skyline, and as Mr. dos Santos prepares to step down this year after 38 years in power, the country’s reconstruction, and the wealth of its ruling class, are coming under greater scrutiny and criticism — even from insiders…..

In a country regarded as one of the world’s most corrupt — ranked 164th of 176 by Transparency International — details of Angola’s politicized reconstruction are incomplete… [But] from 2002 to 2015, $28 billion from government budgets remain unaccounted for, according to the Catholic University of Angola’s Center for Studies and Scientific Research….. Up to 35 percent of the money spent on road construction alone has vanished, according to a study by the center. During the same period, Angolan companies and individuals invested $189 billion overseas in often opaque transactions, according to the center.

Spending on reconstruction had been “like opening a window and throwing out money,” said Lopo do Nascimento, a former prime minister and onetime secretary general of the ruling party.

The ruling kleptocracy has reacted to exposure of its endemic corruption by prosecuting investigative journalists and civil society activists.

The Angolan authorities should immediately drop all charges against journalists Rafael Marques de Morais (right) and Mariano Bras Lourenco, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“The Angolan attorney-general’s use of state security legislation to charge journalists who published allegations of his wrongdoing is an absolute abuse of power, even for a government with little tolerance for dissent,” said CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal.

Morais’s prosecution amounts to retaliation after he received a prestigious Democracy Award from the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy, said Dave Peterson, NED’s Director for Africa.

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