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Will 2017 Be a Year of Political Change in Angola? Most Think Not.

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National Assembly in Luanda, capital of Angola. Photo: David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada. CC BY 2.0,

After 37 years in power Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos (JES) appeared to announce he would not stand in general elections scheduled for late 2017. According to public radio (RNA), the country's current defence minister and the vice president of the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), João Lourenço, would then become the party's candidate in the coming elections.

In March 2016, as Global Voices reported, dos Santos announced political reforms to the public slated for 2018. Many Angolans  adopted a “seeing is believing” approach towards the promised reforms. The same applies for any leadership transition, since dos Santos will remain leader of the MPLA after leaving the presidency and the MPLA failed to confirm Lourenço's candidacy as expected on December 10.

Facebook user Graciano Celebridade is one of many who favours not only the departure of JES but the whole corruption-prone MPLA power structure that has ruled the country since independence from Portugal in 1975.

O mais importante não [é] a nomeação do João Lourenço, [mas] sim a saída do partido dos amigos de Salazar…o MPLA mostrou que já não tem competência de governar esse país, praticamente fazem [da governação] um meio de enriquecer as [suas] riquezas. Alguém me [indique] um membro central do MPLA que não [seja] rico? Esquecem-se dos verdadeiros motivos pelo qual governam esse país…já fui da JMPLA, só vi muita sacanagem. [O] MPLA só precisa do povo quando quer votos…

The most important thing is not João Lourenço's nomination, but the departure of the party of Salazar's friends*… the MPLA already showed they are not competent to run this country, they practically make [government] a way of increasing [their] wealth. Someone [show] me a central member of the MPLA who is not rich? They forget the true purpose for which they govern this country… I already left JMPLA [MPLA youth], I only saw a lot of dodgy dealings. [The] MPLA only needs the people when it wants votes…

Dorivaldoy Doy thought similarly:

Eu sou apologista em dizer que o MPLA precisa de ser substituído, não se precisa outro homem do M. Para ser presidente de Angola, sim. Precisa-se um Homem de um outro Partido não importa qual, mas [pelo] menos alguém que seja do M. O MPLA, tem que ser, ou seja deve experimentar ser opositor, ou seja tem que ser um partido da oposição e não no poder… Chega de governar!… Queremos novas experiências…

I am inclined to say that the MPLA needs to be replaced; we do not need another MPLA man. To be president of Angola, yes, it needs to be someone from another party, it doesn't matter which, but just not someone from MPLA. The MPLA has to be, or has to try being, in opposition, a party of opposition and not of power… enough governing! … We want new experiences…

Nelson Tavares supported the departure of José Eduardo dos Santos:

É tempo do presidente ir descansar, e gozar um pouco a vida, e dar oportunidade a outros, para que exista novas ideias e quem sabe uma nova força para continuar a reconstruir o País.

It is time for the president to go and relax, and enjoy life a bit, and give opportunities to others, so that there are new ideas and, who knows, a new force to continue reconstructing the country.

Some believe that João Lourenço's nomination is just a way of José Eduardo dos Santos to maintain power.

According to Mariza Lopez Aziram:

João Lourenço pode até ser Presidente, mas o kota Zé e todo o elenco do MPLA vão continuar a dar ordens no kota João Lourenço. Por isso mesmo que mudem de Presidente as coisas [continuarão] na mesma.

João Lourenço can even be president, but old Zé [aka General Zé Maria — powerful military politician] and the whole cast of MPLA Will continue giving orders to old João Lourenço. So even if the president changes, things will stay the same.

One of Angola's most prominent activists, Rafael Marques, doubted that there would be any transition from MPLA rule. He highlighted that the president has previously announced plans for retirement several times, with ultimately little change.

José Severino, president of the Industrial Association of Angola (AIA), who is familiar with the workings of politicians in the executive branch, also doubted that any major changes were imminent.

Acho que com os recursos do país bem geridos pode, se calhar, haver um crescimento superior ao atual, mas as linhas mestras estão traçadas no Plano Nacional de Desenvolvimento (PND) com o qual o partido no poder se regula numa perspetiva de eleições para o próximo ano.

I think that with the country's resources well-managed there could be a growth rate higher than currently, but the fundamental direction is outlined by the National Development Plan (PND), which the ruling party uses to guide itself in view of the coming elections.

Economist and university professor Faustino Mumbica likewise concluded that a change at the top would not lead to a new political system:

Tratam-se de mudanças que eventualmente não trarão grandes resultados, tendo em conta que as pessoas que vão substituir já se encontram comprometidas com o mesmo circuito, os seus nomes também estão envolvidos em escândalos e eventualmente não tenham moral para fazer grandes roturas com as práticas do passado.

These are changes which ultimately will not bring significant results, taking into account that the people who will come in are already committed to the same system, their names are also involved in scandals and ultimately they do not have the conviction to make a big break with the practices of the past.

*António de Oliveira Salazar was Portugal's dictator from 1932 to 1968. Although the MPLA was an independence movement, its critics accuse it of continuing many of the abuses of Portuguese colonial rule. 

2 comments

  • […] by Dércio TsandzanaTranslated by Liam Anderson · · View original post [pt] · comments (0) Donate · Share this: twitter facebook reddit […]

  • Hjalte Zacharewicz Olsen

    Big thanks for this story, though I think the Aziram quote has been mistranslated in regards to Zé (which I am quite confident refers to Zé Du (José Eduardo Dos Santos), not Zé Maria, but maybe I am mistaken.

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