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Angola Elects 2022 — Issue 1
Zitamar's Angola email returns to cover elections which could be a turning point for the country
Welcome back to the Angola Economic and Political Risk Briefing — and to the first edition of our special coverage of this year’s general elections in Angola.
On Thursday, 24 August, Angolans will head to the polls to elect their president and National Assembly. The incumbent, President João Lourenço, was elected at the head of the MPLA ticket in September 2017. His predecessor, President José Eduardo dos Santos, had ruled Angola since 1979, making him one of Africa’s longest serving heads of state.
All eyes are on this election, as Lourenço’s popularity ratings have declined significantly since he first took charge, due to economic difficulties compounded by the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic. Recent surveys suggest that the ruling MPLA will be fighting for political survival, up against the threat of the increasingly popular UNITA opposition party.
Zitamar News has a special correspondent on the ground in Angola to cover the crucial elections in August 2022 — allowing us to send regular updates to all subscribers of this newsletter.
Fernando Lima, a senior editor at Zitamar News, has covered all of Angola’s and Mozambique’s multiparty elections since the start of the democratic era in the 1990s, as well as the New York and Bicesse Accords. He is in Angola to cover these elections for Zitamar as well as Mozambican and Portuguese media and the Associated Press.
This newsletter will go on ice again after the election fortnight is over; but Zitamar Consulting remains available to provide bespoke reports on political and economic risk as the full implications of what could be a turbulent period become clear.
Please forward this email to friends and colleagues who will find it relevant — our election coverage is free for all to read.
🔢 The Angolan Election: By The Numbers
Seven parties and one coalition are running in the Angolan general elections scheduled for next Wednesday, 24 August. MPLA, UNITA, PRS, CASA-CE (coalition), FNLA, APN, PHA, P-Njango are the acronyms for the parties.
14,399,391: Number of registered voters for these elections.
43%: Abstention level in the last general elections in September 2017.
22,560: Angolan voters registered in the diaspora, enfranchised for the first time
105,952: Number of CNE (National Commission for Elections) officials operating the 26,443 voting booths across the country and abroad.
220: Number of deputies for Parliament that voters will be electing – 130 as a national constituency and 90 at the provincial level, five for each province, all elected through proportional representation under the d’Hondt method.
🗳 Vote and sit vs Vote and go
One of the main controversies in Angolan Elections. Unita, the main opposition party, has been expressing doubts as to the independence of election administration body CNE for years (for example, see Angola Briefing, 9 October 2020). As a result, Unita is arguing that voters, after casting their votes, should stay around the polling stations in order to monitor the count and the filling in of the results sheets, two crucial moments in southern African elections where the results are often stolen. All other parties, including the coalition CASA-CE, say voters should return to their homes and wait for the results there.
Unita certainly has grounds for concern. Manuel Silva Pereira "Manico" was a highly controversial choice to head up Angola’s CNE, with his inauguration two years ago drawing criticism from opposition parties and prompting street protests outside the National Assembly building in Luanda. Unita leader Adalberto Costa Júnior noted at the time that Manico’s appointment was intended to “keep the regime in power for eternity”. Manico is accused of being highly partisan in favour of the MPLA, having allegedly sent death threats to a Unita politician in June 2017 while president of the Provincial Electoral Commission of Luanda. He has also been accused of corruption relating to his previous role in Luanda.
✈️ Dos Santos finally home
Former President José Eduardo dos Santos is finally at home after a judicial dispute in Spain where he died on 8 July. A court in Barcelona decided the former president died of natural causes and his body should be returned to his widow, Ana Paula dos Santos. The body arrived in Luanda last Saturday aboard a TAAG aircraft, the Angolan national carrier, while the family came on another plane organised by the Angolan government. As part of an agreement reached with dos Santos’s family, the state funeral will only take place after the general election, to avoid it being exploited for political purposes in the run-up to the elections. The transport of the coffin in the luggage compartment of the plane, and the lack of military escort on removing the body from the aircraft, have caused controversy. In 1979, when the first president Agostinho Neto died in Moscow, his coffin was transported in the passenger compartment of a plane, flanked by top-ranking officers of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA).
The saga of Dos Santos’s death while in self-imposed exile in Spain has gripped the nation. It has negatively impacted President Lourenço’s public image, with many Angolans feeling that the whole affair highlighted Lourenço’s lack of respect for the former president.
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⚽️ Corruption scandal threatens Girabola kick-off
The Lussaty corruption case, which first made headlines in May 2021, has become a scandal which has engulfed the Angolan soccer premier league (known as “Girabola”), ahead of the new season due to start in September. Lussaty was the army officer in the Presidency´s military headquarters (Casa de Segurança) who made international headlines after dozens of bags containing foreign currency were found in his house (see Angola Briefing 28 May 2021). During the trial, the Attorney General’s office (Ministério Público) revealed that 39 soccer players from Kuando Kubango Futebol Clube (KK FC) were paid using funds from the provincial delegation of the Presidency´s military headquarters, despite not being members of the military or Casa de Segurança staff. These salaries were paid until October 2021 and the calculated amount is 410 million kwanzas — almost a million US dollars. As a result of the scandal the KK FC have declared that they won’t be able to participate in the Girabola and the authorities are considering postponing the 2022-2023 season.
Under former president dos Santos the Casa de Segurança, headed by General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”, was seen as one of the epicenters of grand corruption in Angola. President Lourenço has engaged in a sweeping (and some claim politically-targeted) anti-corruption drive since coming to power, including trying to clean up the Casa de Segurança. Football, along with basketball, is a massive spectator sport in Angola. Any delay to the start of the season will be very unpopular nationwide. A delay potentially caused by corruption within the Casa de Segurança is deeply embarrassing for President Lourenço, at a time when he is seeking reelection.
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