LUANDA, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Reports of an imminent
government reshuffle and rising tension between the ruling MPLA
party and the main opposition UNITA party are worrying investors
in the major African oil producing nation of Angola.
The MPLA, which emerged victorious from a 27-year civil war
against UNITA in 2002, has been accused of corruption and of not
doing enough to tackle widespread poverty.
LUANDA, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Angolan President Jose Eduardo
dos Santos on Tuesday denied a claim by a Congolese woman that
he is her father.
In a rare statement that shed light on the personal life of
one of Africa’s most enigmatic leaders, Dos Santos, 68, said
Ngutuila Josefa Matias, 46, had tried to meet him and had stated
publicly that she was his daughter.
LUANDA, Sept 10 (Reuters) – The campaign for Angola’s 2012
elections is off to a ill-tempered start with the ruling MPLA
party and the opposition UNITA party accusing each other of
dirty tactics that threaten a return to violence in the oil
The polls will only be the second since the end of Angola’s
civil war that pitted the Russian and Cuban-backed Popular
Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against UNITA,
backed by the U.S. and apartheid South Africa.
LUANDA, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Angola’s main opposition UNITA
party is using last week’s riots in Mozambique along with false
accusations of government corruption to incite civil unrest in
the oil-producing nation, a ruling MPLA party spokesman said.
Rui Falcao was referring to a speech by the leader of UNITA,
Isaias Samakuva, in which he criticised a government decision to
raise fuel prices by up to 50 percent, adding that poverty in
Angola was already worse than in Mozambique.
Tired of being criticised for being one of the world’s most
secretive governments, Angola is finally throwing back some
Top government officials, including the economy minister,
the finance minister and the head of the central bank, held a
news conference late on Friday to discuss the government’s first
200 days in power — the second news conference of the kind this
“You thought we wouldn’t do this again,” said Carlos Feijo,
Angola’s powerful minister of state who is seen by many as the
president’s right-hand man. “Well, here we are.”
He then went on to speak non-stop for 40 minutes, describing
how the economy had improved in recent months, plans to pay
billions in debt to construction firms and the fight against
poverty and corruption before opening up the floor to questions.
Many journalists praised the government’s decision to hold
the news conference as a step in the right direction in a nation
where officials seem to be paid to keep quiet and where people
are afraid to openly criticise the president.
Greater transparency could also bolster Angola’s chances of
receiving more Western loans and placing debt with private
investors abroad, as it seeks cash shore up its finances after
the recent slump in oil prices.
Angola was ranked in the bottom 19 of 180 countries in a
Transparency International corruption study last year.
State-run daily Jornal de Angola hailed the news conference
a success in an editorial a few days later.
“The Angolan government has explained how public funds are
being managed so that Angolans continue to trust in those they
elected into government for four years,” said Jornal de Angola.
“It is important that all Angolans, whether or not they
voted for the ruling party, to be aware of the importance of
this extraordinary performance.”
The question is whether the Angolan government is serious
about increasing transparency or simply using the media’s thirst
for information to campaign ahead of the nation’s 2012
LUANDA, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Angola’s ruling MPLA party
brushed aside reports of corruption involving senior government
officials earlier this year as a smear campaign aimed at hurting
the party ahead of general elections in 2012.
The party’s powerful Political Bureau said in a statement on
Monday the campaign was spearheaded by Angolan nationals hired
by local and foreign organisations to “tarnish everything the
executive power does” ahead of the vote.
It was surprising to see Angola’s media regulator on Thursday accusing the nation’s only state-run newspaper of running a story that distorted a speech by the leader of the main opposition party to make him look favourable towards the government.
The National Media Council, a government run body comprised of journalists, seems determined to help Angola’s media sector become less biased towards the government . It urged Jornal de Angola to be more rigorous in its coverage.
The newspaper ran a story on March 14 based on a speech by UNITA leader Isaias Samakuva with the title: “Samakuva sees growth in several sectors of the economy,” when his words had instead been highly critical of the government, the regulator said.
Jornal de Angola “should avoid arriving at conclusions that may change the meaning of the facts reported even though the story may reflect the opinion of the newspaper or of the journalist who wrote it,” the regulator said in a statement published in Jornal de Angola.
UNITA spokesman Alcides Sakala, whose party had lodged the complaint with the regulator about the story, said the regulator’s move was a step in the right direction for a country that is opening up after a three-decade long rule that ended in 2002.
But Angola still ranks 119 out of 175 countries in Reporters Without Borders media freedom index.
The state owns two national broadcasters, the only radio station with nationwide coverage, and Jornal de Angola, the country’s most influential daily newspaper which often runs headlines praising the ruling MPLA party.
This has helped the MPLA secure almost 82 percent of the votes in Angola’s 2008 parliamentary elections – the first to take place after a civil war that ended in 2002.
The question now is whether Angola’s ruling MPLA party, which has ruled the oil producing nation for over three decades, is finally ready to loosen its grip on the media before the country holds parliamantary and presidential elections in 2012?