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Angola continues clear out of former President’s family

Published on 10/01/2018

Angola’s president of 100 days, João Lourenço, continues to clear away the remnants of the corrupt regime of José dos Santos while continuing his less than cooperative attitude towards Portugal, the country’s old ‘colonial master.’

The current point of conflict with Lisbon is Operation Fizz in which Angola’s former vice-president, Manuel Vicente, is wanted back in Portugal to face charges that he handed §800,000 to former Portuguese prosecutor, Orlando Figueira, in exchange dropping an investigation into the origin of funds which Vicente used to buy a luxury apartment in a Lisbon suburb.

Formally accused in Portugal of bribery, money laundering and document falsification, Vincente remains in Angola and has official backing that he should be tried in his home country where he is likely to be pardoned by the current president, if even found guilty.

Lisbon sees this as a way for Angola to get to Vincente off the hook, while the Angolan government has countered by suggesting that Portugal is being rather offensive by even suggesting that Vincete may not receive a fair trial in Angola, judged by his peers.

As this impasse continues, President Lourenço carries on with his purge of Angola’s former ‘first family’ by today announcing the sacking of José Filomeno dos Santos, one of former president, Eduardo dos Santos’s, sons who, despite his tender years, ended up running Angola’s sovereign wealth fund – largely for his own benefit and of those around him.

In November last year, José Filomeno dos Santos was the target of João Lourenço’s ire, when the government rescinded a contract he had signed between the sovereign wealth fund and Bromangol, a company that had a monopoly on food analysis labs and which had direct links to the fund manager.

The president also is ‘reviewing’ a huge contract for the development of Luanda’s port, a contract which mysteriously had been awarded to a company owned by Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s billionaire daughter. There were no competing bids.

The board of Angola’s §5 billion State’s fund now will be chaired by Carlos Alberto Lopes, who until now has been the Secretary for Social Affairs of the Head of State.

The Angolan president explained that a company had been hired to evaluate the operation of the State fund, and the results now have been reviewed by the Ministry of Finance – hence the sacking.

Asked if he was pursuing the family of Eduardo dos Santos with these sackings, João Lourenço said that this was “an incorrect way of analysing the problem.” “We do not persecute people,” he added.

One of Lourenço’s first acts as Angola’s new president, was to sack Isabel dos Santos from the chairmanship of Angola’s State oil company, Sonangol. Contracts held by Public Television of Angola and several dos Santos controlled companies also have been scrapped as they were “harmful to the interests of the State.”

Lourenço’s clearing out of the old president’s family is welcomed by ordinary Angolans but the insistence that Vincente be tried in Angola has been seen in Lisbon as a snub, despite existing legal protocols that allow nationals of either country to be tried in one or the other.

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