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Angola: Electoral campaign fails to excite voters

Angola has been enjoying a taste of the election campaign atmosphere for almost a month now, but the truth is that there is little or nothing happening on the streets of Luanda, the capital city, that could attract the electorate's attention, and since its very first day the campaign has proved to be lukewarm. As the blog Eleição 2008 attests [pt]:

Quase não há campanha nas ruas. Ninguém que chegasse hoje a Angola diria que se está à beira de eleições.

There is virtually no campaigning on the streets. Nobody who sets foot in Angola today would say that we are on the verge of elections.

“Angola is changing for the better” says MPLA advertising. Photo kindly provided by José Manuel Lima da Silva, Flickr user Kool2bBop

The most prominent political parties are UNITA and MPLA and it is possible to see these two political groups’ banners attached to walls, trees, yards, and cars. However, the air time provided on the Public Television of Angola (TPA) demonstrates the profile of all parties and their lack of ability to grab voters. Their arguments are bleak and so are their electoral programs. Nelson Morais [pt] asks when the parties will turn themselves towards people's desires:

Nos últimos dias a imprensa tem comentado que … as eleições que se realizarão no mês de Setembro,não será mais um fiasco…. porque o povo aprendeu com os erros cometidos no passado. Deixo aqui um comentário: será com esta movimentação dos partidos políticos cheios de preocupação para obterem um resultado satisfatório, haverá alguém que está verdadeiramente empenhado em ouvir e procurar ajudar este povo?!!!!

Over the last days, the press has commented that the elections to be held in September will no longer be a total failure… because people have learned from their mistakes of the past. I would add a comment: with all this movement and political parties fully concerned to achieve a satisfactory result, will there be someone who is truly committed to listening and seeking to help these people ?!!!!

Given the expectation generated from the beginning of the election campaign and the seemingly peaceful environment in which people live nowadays, a question springs to mind. What differences are there between the explosive elections of 92 and the voting of later this year? Luísa Rogério, general secretary of the Union of Angolan Journalists and a reporter covering the elections back sixteen years ago, makes the following comparison [pt]:

Não se pode comparar com o ambiente vivido em 1992. A campanha para as eleições de 5 de Setembro já começou e há a impressão que não está a acontecer nada no país, exceptuando uma ou outra bandeira, um ou outro slogan e os espaços que os partidos políticos ocupam na rádio e na televisão.

Em 1992 sentia-se a campanha política não só em Luanda, como no país inteiro. Ficava-se com a impressão que o país vivia em função da campanha e a campanha eleitoral marcava profundamente a vida do cidadão ao contrário do que acontece agora. A actividade dos partidos é quase inexistente, não se vêem grandes manifestações, não se sente o clima de campanha.

You can not compare [today's] with the environment experienced in 1992. The campaign for September 5 elections has already begun and there is the impression that nothing is happening in the country, except one or another flag or slogan and the air time used up by the political parties on radio and television. In 1992 the political campaign was felt not only in Luanda, but in the entire country. There was the impression that the country lived according to the campaign and that the election campaign profoundly marked the citizen's life, contrary to what happens now. There is almost no party activity, there are no big events, we don't feel the campaign climate.

“The sun smiles for everybody” says UNITA advertising. Photo kindly provided by José Manuel Lima da Silva, Flickr user Kool2bBop

In the absence of strong political activity in this election campaign, it may be safe to state that Angola will not repeat the violence of 92. However, some political parties such as UNITA have come forth to say that there is a lack of money to support the planned activities and to denounce intolerance from forces close to the MPLA – the political party in power. The National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) also accused the media of bias saying that they favor the MPLA. Feliciano J.R.Cangüe [pt] agrees and says that the TV and Radio do not “provide a quality service for the Angolan people”:

Todos aqueles que acompanham as notícias de Angola, devem ter ficados horrorizados com festivais de editoriais repugnantes que certos órgãos oficiais vomitaram. Foi uma verdadeira guerra entre Sansão e Golias. A imprensa oficial apontou sua artilharia pesada contra o presidente do maior partido da oposição. Essa gente quer o quê?

All those who follow the news of Angola must have been horrified at the carnival of repugnant editorials that some official bodies have thrown up. It was a real war between Samson and Goliath. The official press pointed their heavy artillery against the president of the largest opposition party. What do these people want?

Having just over two weeks to go to the big day, the most striking moment of democracy may be slipping away almost unnoticed in the Angolan capital. But there are hopes for a good turn out of voters, and, above all, that the elections will bring a better future whatever the result is, as Carlos Lopes dreams:

No décimo terceiro dia, os eleitores continuam a abraçar os partidos que caminham com a corrente da mudança até ao dia do voto, porque a partir do dia 5 de Setembro, a mudança torna-se uma realidade e o povo Angolano irá renascer com a esperança numa vida melhor e digna.

On the thirteenth day [of campaigning], voters continue to embrace those parties that go with the flow of change up to the election day, because from September 5 the change will become reality and the Angolan people will be revived with the hope for a better and dignified life.

“Never give up the fight even if you are too old and tired!”. Photo called Freedom, kindly provided by José Manuel Lima da Silva, Flickr user Kool2bBop

Originally written in Portuguese, translation into English by Paula Góes

8 comments

  • […] Sem clima de eleições 20Ago08 Mesmo depois de 16 anos sem sentir o gostinho do voto, Angola não está muito animada com a iminência das eleições – faltam duas semanas para o pleito e a campanha quase passa […]

  • […] gestürzt, von dem es sich bisher nicht erholt hat. Aber dieses Mal, so scheint, wird es ruhig bleiben. Andererseits: hey! Es ist Afrika, da kann man ganz ohne Grund Wahlen fälschen und zur […]

  • […] incidents, fortunately most of them only verbal [incidents], to try to heat up an otherwise lukewarm campaigning that seems to be like the weather, very cold”, reports Jotacê Carranca [pt]. Posted by […]

  • well whether lukewarm or apathy towards the elections.i feel the political parties should be able to provide sustainable development in term of economic development,youth empowerment,jobs,health care etc especially with angola’s huge foreign earnings in oil.if there is a proper development plan,then africa is on its way to peace on all sides.to avoid the incidences in darfour,Niger delta in Nigeria angolans need to vote wisely.

  • […] Friday September 05 was a special day in Angola. After lukewarm elections campaigning, the population was excited to vote for a new parliament in the first elections in 16 years. For […]

  • […] 9月5日はアンゴラにとって特別な日だった。煮えきらない選挙戦の後、国民は16年ぶりの新議会への投票に盛り上がった。多くの人びとにとって、選挙権を行使するのは今回が初めてとなった。ほとんどの国民は穏やかに1万2000か所の投票所へと向かったが、5日に手配上の問題があり投票用紙が届くのが遅れたために、6日も首都ルアンダでは320の投票所で投票が続いている。 […]

  • […] hii ya tarehe 5 Septemba ilikuwa ni siku maalum katika Angola. Baada ya kampeni vuguvugu za uchaguzi, umma ulijawa shauku ya kupiga kura kwa ajili ya bunge jipya baada ya miaka 16. Kwa watu wengi, hii […]

  • KALOANDA

    yeS wE cAN,SOU SIMPATIZANTE DA UNITA DESDE OS OITO ANO E ESTOU ANSIOSO POR VER O DIA QUE EM ANGOLA EU ENTRE E FESTEJE PELAS RUAS DE LUANDA A NOSSA VITORIA ASSIM COMO FEZ SAVIMBI UM DIA E ASSIM ESPERAM MUITOS EXPATRIADOS POR ESSE MUNDO; ANGOLANOS QUE SOFRERAM NA PELE, AMARGURA DE UM DIA TER DE SAIR DA SUA TERRA AMADA, E TEREM PASSADO POR TODAS AS AMARGURAS DA VIDA LONGE DA SUA TERRA SEM NUNCA TE LA ESQUECIDO.i GOT A DREAM,”EU TENHO UM SONHO”, DISSE UMA VES ALGUÉM POIS EU TAMBEM TENHO ESSE SONHO E SEI QUE É POSSIVEL;O SONHO DA LIBERDADE QUE MUITOS ANGOLANOS ESPERAM A QUALQUER MOMENTO;COMO POETA ROMANCISTA ANGOLANO COMPREMETI ME QUE ESSE DIA VAI CHEGAR, POIS A NOSSA LUTA CONTINUA MESMO E FORA DE ANGOLA, NÃO SOU UM CHE GUEVARA, MAS ACREDITO QUE NADA É IMPOSSSIVEL, yES WE CAN.a TODOS OS ANGOLANOS DE GEMA QUE AMAM A LIBERDADE, NOS SOMOS OS VERDADEIROS ANGOLANOS AQUELES QUE ANDAMOS NA MATA,E ANDAMOS POR ESSE MUNDO E SOFREMOS POR VER A NOSSA terra A SER SAQUEADA POR ESTRANHOS, “NOS SOMOS A SELVA E O SILENCIO, NOS SOMOS A HIENA, A CHITA SOMOS A ARMA DA CONSISTENCIA E DA VITORIA SOMOS AFRICA”nas proximas eleições ou até antes
    aNGOLA SERÁ LIVRE

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