from PEDRO AGOSTO in Luanda, Angola
LUANDA – THE endorsement by political heavyweights and the church is a testament to the impact of President Joao Lourenco’s drive to uproot the plague of corruption in Angola.
Angola’s third elected president since independence almost 45 years ago has made the fight against graft, particularly in government, his priority since he came to power in 2017.
This followed the realisation that despite the Southern African country’s endowment with natural resources- it is Africa’s second-largest producer of crude oil (behind Nigeria)- only the elite were benefitting and the majority wallowing in poverty.
This week, Angola received the first United States (US) first senior government official since the election of Lourenco. Coincidentally, Lourenco and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, both assumed office the same year.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, was in Angola for a series of meetings with government officials, civil society representatives, and the business community as part of initiatives to deepen bilateral relations between the two countries.
The anti-corruption crusade of the new government in Angola was central to the discussions.
Pompeo lauded Lourenco’s election as a milestone in Angola’s transition to democracy as he was the first new president in 38 years.
“The US supports President Lourenço’s commitment to fight corruption and enact economic and political reforms,” he declared.
Pompeo disclosed that during the meeting with Lourenco, they talked first about moving beyond the corruption that had stunted Angola’s vast potential for far too long.
“During his first two and a half years in office, President Lourenco has done great work to make it a ghost of the past,” the US politician lauded.
“He’s increased transparency. He has helped financial institutions clean up their books and he has pursued bad actors,” Pompeo lauded further.
Top government and party officials, including individuals who benefitted from the cronyism of the immediate past government of Jose Eduardo dos Santos have not been spared as the new broom sweeps clean.
The most prominent figure at the wrong end of the blitz is Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of the former president.
She is accused of wrongly benefitting from her influential position in the then-First Family to amass wealth, which made her the richest woman in Africa.
“I’m optimistic that he (Lourenco) will continue to liberate Angola from corruption. I am also encouraged by his efforts to privatise state-owned enterprises, a move that will greatly attract private investment,” Pompeo said.
Angola’s resolve against sleaze has previously received global endorsement.
It improved anti-corruption efforts are reflected in its 19-place improvement in its ranking in the 2019 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
The US supports Angola’s anti-corruption fight through a number of initiatives, including a programme the Department of the Treasury launched in March 2019 to improve Angola’s capacity to implement its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
Last week, church leaders also endorsed the steps taken by the administration of Lourenco to address the issue.
Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), also pledged his organisation’s support for the measures.
He was one of two religious leaders to meet Lourenco.
Deolinda Dorca Tecas, general secretary of the Council of Christian Churches of Angola, also met the head of state and raised some concerns about infrastructure challenges affecting the provision of health and education.
It is believed years of corruption hampered the previous administration’s focus on these areas.
– CAJ News