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Angolans react to government's new law-and-order initiative

Street vendors in Angola | Photo by Simião Hossi (2018)

A new government initiative in Angola wants to tackle public disorder, crime, and illegal immigration. Officials say that “Operation Rescue”, as it's called, is meant to restore the state's authority and encourage citizens’ care about the country's public services. It will begin on November 6 and has no end date.

Speaking with Deutsche Welle, Angolan police commissioner general said that, although Angola is experiencing economic, financial and social difficulties, those should not justify disorder:

Não podemos permitir isso e temos de garantir maior estabilidade, sossego, tranquilidade e paz para os cidadãos. Queremos resgatar a autoridade do Estado que, por vezes, dilui-se na confusão. Queremos resgatar a ordem, o civismo, a dignidade.

We can not allow this, we must ensure greater stability, peace, tranquility and peace for the citizens. We want to rescue the authority of the state, which is sometimes diluted in confusion. We want to rescue order, civility, dignity.

Among other things, the campaign aims to reduce the number of street vendors in Luanda and address insalubrity in the streets.

Operation rescue will also crack down on illegal immigration. This is a heated debate in Angola, whose border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the longest in Africa and, Angolan authorities say, is crossed by 1,000 people every day.

In March 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criticized the Angolan government for having forced 530 refugees to return to DRC. The Congolese authorities recently said that they will also deport Angolans living in that country in retaliation.

Since September, the Angolan government has been conducting another program directed specifically at border control. “Operation Transparency” happens in seven Angolan provinces that border the DRC and combats primarily diamond smuggling.

According to Minister Pedro Sebastiao, who is also the head of presidential security, diamonds worth over one million US dollars have been seized in the course of the operation, as well as 59 firearms. Over 200 premises for illegal diamond trading have been dismantled.

Angolans have their say

Domingos das Neves, Professor at the Catholic University of Angola, says that the operation should have different objectives, namely the improvement of the lives of Angolans:


O resgate maior do Estado seria o de proporcionar condições para garantir empregos e trabalhos dignos para a multidão de jovens desempregados, licenciados (ou não), técnicos ou analfabetos, pois que todos precisam, pelo menos, sobreviver com um mínimo de dignidade. E, nada melhor do que viver com o fruto do próprio suor. Isso sim, seria o verdadeiro resgate da autoridade do Estado, que é uma entidade de bem!


The most important rescue by the state would be to provide the conditions to guarantee decent jobs for the young unemployed, licensed (or not), technic or illiterate, because everyone must at least survive with a minimum of dignity. And there is nothing better than living through our own effort. That would be the real rescue of the State's authority, which is a good entity!

Gilberto Muatye Alberto Fernando, journalist and resident in Luanda, supported the professor's statement, with some reservations:

E sendo o Estado uma entidade de bem, com tudo aquilo que foi dito neste post, a operação resgate seria uma solução e não um problema… só que temos o hábito de querer precipitar as coisas, não acautelamos o mínimo para que as pessoas tenham dignidade e depois queremos organização… onde é que já se viu organização com fome?

If the state is a good entity, and with all that was said in this post, the rescue operation would be a solution and not a problem… except that we have the habit of wanting to rush things, we do not take the minimum precautions for people to have dignity and then we want organization… where have we ever seen organization where there's hunger?

Others wholly support the government's program and say that it is necessary for citizens to carry out their activities in an organized way. Tinamendes Ambrosio commented:

Acho pertinente sua reflexão amigo Domingos Das Neves. Mas enquanto as condições de vida mínimas desejadas não chegam, podemos indo arrumar a nossa casa. Podemos ser pobres e limpos. A venda e o amontoados de lixo em qualquer esquina não tem a ver com a pobreza más sim com o espírito do deixa andar. Assim cresceram desordenadamente muitos bairros.

I think your reflection is pertinent, Domingos Das Neves. But while the minimum living conditions don't come, we can still clean up our house. We can be poor and clean. Street selling and trash in every corner is not about poverty, but rather with a careless spirit. So many neighborhoods have grown in disorderly way.

Street sellers in Angola | Photo by Simião Hossi (2018)

The journalist Alberto dos Santos Ovni reminded that people are embarrassed by this operation because of poverty in the country:

Operação Resgate
Senhor Presidente da República
Senhor Ministro do Interior

A zunga ou venda ambulante, as oficinas sem cobertura, as bancadas do jovem que repara telefone junto a via pública, o jovem que exerce o seu serviço de moto táxi vulgo kupapatas, o taxista que nos leva dos Mulenvos, Papá Simão, Bananeira, Caroango, beco da morte, do Calauenda, da Belo Monte, Maiombe, Pedreira, Vidrul, da Fubu, Mundial entre outros bairros da nossa /vossa capital Luanda onde os transportes públicos não chegam por falta de estradas em condições para chegarmos ao centro da cidade e sermos tratados em hospitais, porque o plasmódio fez de nós o seu hospedeiro… Isto não é sinónimo de retirar a autoridade do Estado é simplesmente sinónimo de ‘‘POBREZA”.
Por favor deixem a mamá zungueira em paz!

Rescue Operation
Mr. President of the Republic
Minister of the Interior

The street selling, the uncovered shops, the magazine of the young man who repairs the telephone along the public highway, the young man who carries out his taxi service, the taxi driver who takes us from the Mulenvos, Papá Simão, Bananeira, Caroango, Calauenda, Belo Monte, Maiombe, Pedreira, Vidrul, Fubu, Mundial among other neighborhoods of our capital Luanda where public transport does not arrive due to the lack of roads in good condition. This doesn't mean lack of state authority, it is simply means POVERTY.

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