from PEDRO AGOSTO in Luanda, Angola
LUANDA – THE appointment of prominent individuals tainted by corruption and mismanagement allegations into important government positions has cast a shadow over the sincerity of President João Lourenço to fight entrenched corruption in Angola.
According to critics, the touted anti-graft stance is more indicative of
concerted attempts to dismantle his predecessor’s influences and
consolidate total power over Angola’s political institutions than any
meaningful attempts at reform.
The former defence minister has been in power since September last year after succeeding the long serving Eduardo dos Satos, who was in power since 1979.
Among the most prominent of these appointments is that of former vice president Manuel Vicente, who is Lourenço’s informal adviser.
In June last year, a court in the former colonial master Portugal, ruled that Vincente, who was dos Santos’ deputy from 2012, should face trial over bribery allegations brought against him by a prosecutor in February 2017.
He was accused of bribing a magistrate with over $800 000 (R12 million) in order to shelve investigations into his alleged deals at Sonangol Group, the parastatal that oversees petroleum and natural gas production in Angola.
He headed it between 2009 and 2012.
The former vice president has made the headlines for the wrong reasons recently for his superfluous lifestyle.
The most outrageous of the allegations include sending an executive jet to France and Portugal for the exclusive transportation of wine and cognac for his personal consumption.
VipAir, a company partly owned by Sonangol, operate the flights.
“The many bottles of Petrus wine regularly acquired by the said Angolan leader are just a tiny sample of his opulent lifestyle,” anti-corruption watchdog, Maka Angola stated.
The watchdog said this was a slap in the face of the impoverished
majority, including thousands of children dying in ill-equipped public
“It is heart wrenching,” Maka Angola stated.
EXX Africa, the intelligence thinktank, stated Lourenço a year ago enjoyed the benefits of renewed market optimism and fresh investor interest particularly in the important oil-producing African economy.
However, there are growing indications that the new government’s
“honeymoon” period is over as investors are becoming concerned with entrenched state corruption and the persistently weak state of the economy.
EXX Africa noted so far the only graft cases pursued by Lourenço’s
administration had been politically motivated, thus allowing the new
president to remove critics and to stake out his new political territory.
The political upheaval has coincided with rising food prices, frequent
strike action and public sector cuts that are triggering protests and
increasing the risk of riots in Angola’s cities.
“If Lourenço’s government does not soon fully commit to broad oil sector reform and prudent fiscal management, as well as actively embrace transparency initiatives, the investment outlook for Angola is set to deteriorate sharply as investors lose faith in Lourenco’s stewardship of the economy,” EXX Africa stated.
Speaking ahead of a recent visit to Germany, Lourenço expressed confidence in his anti-graft fight.
“The government is making important reforms in the judicial and criminal investigation sectors in order to fight corruption and impunity in a more effective way, and ensuring business transparency,” he said.
– CAJ News