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An Angolan Governor Loses His Job After Criticizing His Own Political Party in an Interview

Ex-governor Isaac dos Anjos, dismissed in June. Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

The governor of Benguela province in Angola, Isaac Maria dos Anjos, was dismissed after giving a controversial interview to the US government-funded media outlet Voice of America (VOA), which was broadcast live on Facebook.

Anjos was invited to the program Angola Fala Só (Angola Talks Alone), recorded in Benguela on June 1, in which he responded to the questions of those in the room and those watching the broadcast live via Facebook.

Everything in place. Today at 14h with Governor Isaac dos Anjos at Hotel Mombaka. At 15h there is the second panel with civil society

During the interview, dos Anjos criticized his own party, the MPLA (Popular Movement for Angola Liberation), which has ruled Angola since it became independent from Portugal in 1975. He said:

(…) Nós temos ainda no nosso léxico político os partidos da independência. Eles (partidos políticos) são muitos pesados. (…) Nós queremos que no futuro tenhamos pessoas que dirijam o país no respeito pelas normas gerais e o cidadão possa andar a vontade, para ter uma coisa não deve estar conotado com alguma bandeira (partidária)…depois que eu falei aqui com esses micros todos, nem sei se o meu emprego não está em risco.

[…] We still have the parties from independence on our political scene. They are very influential. […] In the future we want to have people who run the country respecting general norms and for the citizen to be able to walk freely, to have something should not be linked to some [political party] banner… after having spoken here with all those microphones, I don’t even know if my job isn’t at risk.

The video of the interview with the above excerpt was shared on YouTube:

On June 8, a government decree dismissed dos Anjos and nominated in his place Rui Falcão Pinto de Andrade, who was governor of the province of Namibe, naming for that position someone else within the party.

The MPLA justified the decision to dismiss dos Anjos as part of the party’s reorganization ahead of the next general election, to be held in August this year. This will be the first election since 1979 without President José Eduardo dos Santos in command of the MPLA.

But internet users pointed to the fact that Dos Anjos was already strongly disliked by MPLA leadership for his positions critical of the party, making the VOA interview just another drop in the ocean.

In May, for example, Angolan media revealed “misunderstandings” between the governor of Benguela and some sections of the MPLA, with, at the time, sources in the ruling party having revealed the creation of a management commission to replace Isaac dos Anjos.

In April, Isaac dos Anjos gave another interview to DW África Portuguese, part of Germany's international public broadcaster, in which he criticized his own party:

(…) Não vale a pena escamotear mais e nos guerreamos com os argumentos do passado. Sofremos uma grande pressão internacional e nacional para mudarmos. Foi uma guerra longa e essa guerra também foi uma guerra civil. E, por ter sido civil, fica difícil [dizer] quem participou no bem, quem participou no mal. Levámos muito tempo a negociar a paz. Foram anos sucessivos, mas conseguimos agora ter 15 anos de paz.

Temos que prestar contas ao povo. Não podemos chegar aqui e só falar das vitórias. Temos que falar também dos nossos fracassos – não pode ser a nossa oposição a ter o começo. Eu próprio tenho que dar a cara. Mas não vou fazê-lo sozinho, os directores que estiveram a ganhar salários comigo têm que vir.

[…] It is no longer worth playing games and fighting ourselves with the arguments of the past. We are under a great international and national pressure to change. It was a long war and this war was also a civil war. And, having been civil, it remains difficult [to say] who participated for good, who participated for bad. We took a long time to negotiate peace. It lasted for years, but we have now managed to have 15 years of peace.

We have to be accountable to the people. We cannot come here and only talk of the victories. We have to talk also of our failures – it cannot be our opposition which has to begin that. I myself have to take responsibility. But I will not do it alone, the leaders which were earning wages with me have to join in.

On social media, this topic caused a lot of debate. Clitorclilson Bombestergue Pacoy Cosme, a university student in Luanda, explained that the dissenting viewpoints of the dismissed politician are not new:

 Em 2015 Isaac Maria Dos Anjos chamou a governação do MPLA de um governo incompetente por importar até paliteiros dos dentes. Em Maio de 2016 numa palestra da OMUNGA Isaac Dos Anjos alertou a Juventude a não apostarem mais no MPLA, aconselhou indirectamente os jovens a aderirem a CASA-CE.

In 2015 Isaac Maria Dos Anjos called the government of the MPLA incompetent for importing even toothpick holders. In May 2016 in a speech for OMUNGA [national NGO that defends children's rights] Isaac Dos Anjos warned the youth to no longer put their faith in the MPLA, indirectly advising the youth to support the CASA-CE [coalition of opposition parties].

Kikas Pedro Moises is Angolan and lives in the same province where the governor was dismissed:

O povo Benguelense estão triste com a má atitude do presedente da República de Angola pela exoneração do Governador de Benguela Isáac Maria dos Anjos, por ele foi o melhor governador de todos os tempos porq sabe separar as coisas de trabalho e a política!

The Benguele people are saddened by the attitude of the president of the Republic of Angola towards the dismissal of the Governor of Benguela Isáac Maria dos Anjos, as he was the best governor ever because he knows how to separate matters of work and politics!

António Pinto Uassamba questioned the real intentions behind dismissing a governor with upcoming elections:

A pergunta que não quer se calar é: O que esteve na base da exoneração de Isaac dos Anjos, uma vez que em termos de timing, o acto pode ser perigoso para o partido da situação que vai às eleições em Agosto próximo?

The question that should not be ignored is: What was the basis of the dismissal of Isaac dos Anjos, given that, in terms of timing, this move could be dangerous for the party in power which is going into the elections this August?

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