No worries for dos Santos
Angola’s never-ending president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, gave a very rare TV interview this week. Needless to say, his appearance was keenly anticipated.
Angola’s never-ending president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, gave a very rare TV interview this week. Needless to say, his appearance was keenly anticipated. And just as needless to say, he said nothing of any real importance. True he admitted to being “worried…about the gap between the rich and the poor” (not that he’s doing anything about it) and to considering who will succeed him when he eventually steps down as “…it is only human to do so” (not that he’s thinking too hard about it despite his 34 years in office).
But he expressed no need to change course despite growing protests and still crippling poverty (even he conceded it was 36 percent). Indeed, he sniffed at the many demonstrations that have erupted over the course of the past two years. “We don't see, at least I don't perceive, any risk of social instability at the moment. Shortly after the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and the conflict in Libya, they tried, here too, to incite the youth to hold big protests...but the truth is, it did not stick because most of the population understands the government's efforts.”
Given how inconsequential he believes the protests to be, I wonder why dos Santos’ security forces crack down on them so brutally – by banning legal meetings, and beating and arresting peaceful demonstrators. These seem like the actions of a threatened establishment rather than one luxuriating in the glow of a population that “understands the government’s efforts”.
And why would there be a need to disappear two activists, if their demands had no support?
But it is not just what dos Santos said. It is also what he didn’t say. There was still no response to the detailed allegations in a recent report into a corrupt Angola-Russia debt deal, which alleges that US$36 million was diverted into the president’s own coffers.
And no word about the forced evictions of the poor and marginalised to make way for developments for the rich and powerful (maybe he isn’t all that worried after all? Or maybe he isn’t worried about the housing gap between the rich and the poor?).
And not a word about the massive white elephant that is the Kilmaba project. Maybe that’s because no one in Angola understands the government’s efforts in relation to that.