UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE
Edition #10 23 February 1998
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WHEN DEMOCRACY BECOMES DICTATORIAL...
If democracy is to be seen as merely the opportunity for members of a society to freely voice their wishes and views on the relevant issues of public life, then there is no doubt Angola has made substantial progress when compared to its political position of 5 years ago.
After dropping the monolithic doctrines peculiar to a Marxist-oriented system of government, a seemingly irreversible trend for a pluralism of ideas has emerged, and as time passes politicians, intellectuals and the ordinary citizen are slowly but surely learning to accept political competition with people of different ideologies, unlike the recent past where generally there was not much tolerance of the opinions of others.
During the latest session of the national assembly - the Angolan parliament - at which was discussed the 1998 state budget and the government economic programme for 1998-2000, TV viewers could for the first time follow live a debate on the social and economic situation in the country.
Members of parliament,both from the ruling MPLA and the main opposition UNITA, would at times drop their political differences to express common concerns and offer suggestions to prime minister Fernando FranÁa Van-Dunem's cabinet on what they regarded as priorities.
During the debate, a considerable number of influential MPs from the country's two major parties expressed their joint and realistic views on such social areas as education and health as well as energy and public works. From both sides they stressed that these should be some of the priorities of the government's economic stabilization programme for the coming two years.
However, the most underprivileged in the country do not really care much about listening to the expressed opinions of their MPs. What they want to see is action by powerful deputies capable of enforcing a pragmatic programme of action rather than the rhetorical plans on the state budget as is the usual way.
The government programme submitted to parliament is, however, nearly a finished product which the assembly said could not be altered by even an iota,unless the majority of the MPLA party found it useful to do so, which they did not. The document was approved although most opposition MPs were of the opinion that the budget amount allotted to defence and police was unnecessarily excessive and wanted it reduced to benefit more the areas of education and health. They even criticized it as reflecting "a militarist, police state".
The leader of the MPLA parliamentary group, Mr Joao Lourenco, responded to the accusations with anger saying that those objecting to the budgeted amounts for defence and the police knew nothing about the realities in the country. He said that he found it incomprehensible that when being part and parcel of the armed forces (FAA), UNITA was raising objections against raising funds which would build up the combative capacity of the army. He added that 'the national and unified army that will emerge from the extinction of the (UNITA) illegal army, expected a new military doctrine and responsibility to operate throughout the country'.
As he said, a similar role is expected of the police, to secure the security of peasant farmers against 'gangs, the mining police or residual forces'. (The three descriptives are euphemistic expressions usually in reference to UNITA soldiers acting out of the control of the United Nations since the demobilization process got underway).
For his part, top UNITA MP, Abel Chivukuvuku argued that the programme was being debated in a context in which there was major optimism concerning the fruitful conclusion of the peace process. He said, however, that although there were some positive options he had his doubts for its successful realization.
Some political analysts in Luanda are of the opinion that the increasingly clear reluctance of the government to reduce military expenditure reflects a permanent distrust and lack of confidence in its major political rival UNITA. And this distrust and lack of confidence is in UNITAYens commitment to a definitive peace in Angola. Also, there have been persistent rumours in recent days that UNITA has not totally dropped its plans to resume war in the country, and this has been confirmed by a number of high ranking UNITA military officers who have quit the movement allegedly because they do not agree on taking up arms again.
Military experts in South Africa, the country which during the time of the apartheid regime provided decisive military help to UNITA, said recently that Savimbi was considering a move back to the former guerrilla stronghold at Jamba in southeast Angola, on the border with Namibia. They said Jonas Savimbi was holding a secret army of 20-40,000 men with about 5,000 being trained at present in the Angolan northeast diamond-rich province of Lunda-Norte by instructors supplied by Morocco.
It is also rumoured that Savimbi is still getting arms from abroad despite last year's air embargo imposed by the UN Security Council.
1. DOS SANTOS RESIGNATION REPORT DENIED
The Angolan presidential office has dismissed as unfounded recent reports in a Luanda independent bi-weekly magazine that president Jose Eduardo dos Santos was considering resigning and "taking a rest". A note from State House accused the popular "F8" magazine, of "systematically resorting to lies with the mere objective of attracting readers". In its edition of February 10, F8 wrote that the president would quit both the party and the state at any time now "for he has found that he has accomplished his role. He now wants to rest, write his memoirs and devote himself to the family and to research".
It did not name a substitute for the post of MPLA president and Angolan head of state but expressed the opinion that party militants were struggling to choose one from a list which included current MPLA secretary-general Lopo do Nascimento, premier FranÁa Van-Dunem, parliament speaker Roberto de Almeida and former agriculture minister Isaac dos Anjos.
And, offering candidates, the magazine pointed out the former prime minister, Marcolino Moco, who is now the incumbent secretary-general of the seven-member community of Portuguese speaking countries. They also named the current governor (mayor) for the southern Huila province, Mr Kundy Paihama.
2. CATATA COMMUNE BACK TO NORMAL AFTER HEAVY FIGHTING
Catata commune in Angola's central Huambo province on February 13 was back to normal after heavy fighting rocked the area for two days as Jonas Savimbi's UNITA soldiers attempted to capture the village.
The local police said that UNITA soldiers started shelling Catata at dawn on February 10, in a raid in which UNITA allegedly used mortars of 81 and 60mm, AKM and PKM automatic rifles, as well as rocket launchers. The police said that the attackers also captured the nearby, and reportedly unguarded, village of Samune which prompted panic and an exodus of the local inhabitants. UNITA officially confirmed the involvement of its men in the attack but blamed it on an insurgent group commanded by Captain N'Gola "hidden somewhere in the bush".
Later reports from Moxico province in the east of Angola said the situation at Lumbala Nguimbo municipality had also returned to normal after UNITA soldiers attacked the area and disarmed the local police detachment, driving away the local government administrator.
The incident was settled by a joint delegation formed of officials from the government, UNITA and United Nations. A government official in Moxico said the Lumbala Nguimbo administrator, Mr Julio Kuando, who had taken refuge in a nearby area, had now re-appeared, and that all police arms seized by the UNITA soldiers had been surrendered.
3. MPLA PLAYS DOWN SANTOS-SAVIMBI SUMMIT
Angola's ruling MPLA party secretary-general has said that the widely expected direct meeting between president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his arch rival UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi is not so relevant for the successful outcome of the ongoing peace process.
"It is not the meeting which will resolve everything. Those directly involved in the process should do their work and not wait for any miraculous meeting," Mr Lopo do Nascimento said in a recent interview with the Voice of America.
In the interview he stated the fact again that the two leaders had met many times in such direct talks "which had brought no progress at all because UNITA always insisted on "taking one step forward and two steps back".
4. PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC EXPECTED IN JUNE
President Jacques Chirac of France is due to visit Angola in June this year. This was confirmed recently in Luanda by a French member of parliament, Mr Alain Madelin.
Mr Madelin, a former minister of economy and now leader of the French liberal democratic party, would not elaborate on the agenda for the visit, only to say that the French president had confirmed his plans to visit Angola.
Mr Alain Madelain passed through Luanda on February 11-12 following a tour of Africa which took him to Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, South Africa and Mozambique. The trip was announced as reflecting French intention and interest in a better knowledge of Africa by contacting "the new generation of African leaders".
In Luanda, he held talks with president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
5. UNICEF FINALIZES US$75 MILLION 5-YEAR PROGRAMME FOR ANGOLA
UNICEF has promised funding of US$75 million over the next five years for projects designed to protect Angolan underprivileged women and children as well as to improve their living, health and educational conditions.
The terms of the 5-year programme were recently finalized in Luanda during a visit of UNICEF executive director, Mrs Carol Bellamy, who spent four days in Angola on discussions with local authorities and visited some critical areas where scores of war-displaced, abandoned and orphaned children are still camped.
In the countryside, she toured the provinces of Huila and Huambo, following-up on theUNICEF-funded projects being implemented in these regions especially the rehabilitation and construction of schools and health centres.
The UNICEF director said she was extremely happy that her visit coincided with the debate on the state budget at the Angolan parliament where most of those attending had pushed hard and bitterly for increased budgets for social areas such as education and health.
On behalf of secretary-general Kofi Annan, Mrs Bellamy launched a United Nations' urgent appeal for international donors to contribute about US$91 million to assist Angolan projects. She said that top priorities in UNICEF programmes for Angola included the rights of children for major access to education and health.
6. ARRANGEMENTS UNDERWAY FOR MICRO-CREDIT PROGRAMME LAUNCH
Angola has started arrangements to launch this year its national programme on micro-credit which is expected to provide poor families, especially those in the rural communities, with small loans for their projects, as recommended at the summit on micro-credit held in Washington, DC in February last year.
The Angolan ministry of the family and promotion of women said the programme will held on an experimentative basis, in two provinces, Luanda and Bengo, before it is extended to the rest of the country. No precise dates for the start have been announced. It is believed that the loans offered will range from $200 to $5,000. Beneficiaries will be small peasant farmers, cattle owners, demobilized people, war-displaced and refugees.
A conference to explain the content of the programme was recently conducted in Luanda by the ministry in conjunction with first lady Ana Paula dos Santos. In her address, the first lady reminded participants of the UN development programme (UNDP) report on human development which last year put 67 percent of the Angolan population below the poverty line and 11 percent as living in absolute poverty. Mrs Dos Santos attended the Washington summit.
7. MINISTER PUSHES FOR WTO BUREAU IN LUANDA
In a bid to improve his contribution to the government's socio-economic programme for the coming three years, trade minister Mr Victorino Hossi has recommended setting up a permanent secretariat of the world trade organization (WTO) in Luanda, seeing this as a key to successful reforms to Angola's commercial policy.
Speaking at a consultative conference, the first since the government of unity and national reconciliation was formed in April last year, the minister said that it was urgent both to define and re-organize Angola's business bureaus abroad and to create a trade-point with a view to providing business people with sufficient information and the necessary data aimed at promoting foreign investment.
For this to be achieved, he said, the ministry will have to concentrate on complying with the provisions of international treaties of WTO, SADC and COMESA so as to earn the confidence of major foreign partners.
8. ANOTHER SOUTH AFRICAN PLANE HELD ON SUSPECTED UNITA CONNECTION
A Soviet-made "Antonov-26" cargo aircraft, which had just landed in Angola's capital from South Africa, has been held for alleged illegal entry into Angolan airspace with the intention to supply Jonas Savimbi UNITA rebels.
Civil aviation authorities in Luanda acknowledged that the plane had actually been authorized to land in Luanda but was detained "for appearing on a list of planesinvolved in Angolan airspace violation," a list supplied by the UN observer mission to Angola (MONUA).
According to MONUA, the plane had previously operated several flights in areas under UNITA control to drop supplies, despite a UN Security Council air embargo imposed on the movement last year. The plane landed in Luanda on February 3 carrying a 5-member crew and two passengers, all holding South African nationality. The plane belongs to a South African firm, SG Corporation,and allegedly had been hired by an Angolan civil construction company.
It is the second plane from South Africa involved in Angolan airspace violations. A Dakota DC-4 was caught on January 20 this year when heading for UNITA headquarters at Andulo, in the Angolan central Bie province. Police in Luanda have said that the eight people involvedin that violation are awaiting trial in the coming days. Those detained in connection with the Antonov-26 are still under investigation.
9. EUROPEAN UNION FUNDS COMMUNITARY DEVELOPMENT
Angola and the European Union (EU) have signed a US$182 million aid protocol for communitary development in the southern Africa nation of about 11 million people.
The deal is part of the 8th EU development fund for an Angolan national programme meant for rehabilitation of the country's infrastructure and for rural development including the repair and construction of roads and bridges. It will also cover actions for the development of the private sector.
The document was signed in Luanda earlier this month during a visit of EU commissioner for ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) Mr Joao de Deus Pinheiro of Portugal. With this protocol, the EU has become Angola's top partner for the coming five years in terms of aid for development, Mr Pinheiro said.
10. KILLERS OF BENGO GOVERNOR JAILED
A Luanda court has this month sentenced three men involved in the killing of Mr Domingos Hungo "SKS", (governor of Angola's northern Bengo province), to long prison terms. Governor SKS was shot dead by criminals on December 31, 1995 while driving to the house of relatives in the Luanda suburb of Cazenga.
One of those sentenced, Bernardo Joao, who allegedly fired the shot that killed Mr Hungo, will serve 21 years. The two other two convicted murderers, Antonio Martinho Felix and Manuel Miguel, are to serve 10 years each.
The court ruled that contrary to Bernardo Joao's allegations, there was no evidence of the involvement in the crime of a fourth participant. This fourth participant is police investigator Alexandre Andre Nelo, who is, however, widely suspected of allegedly masterminding many crimes in Angola.
11. SPORTS: SOCCER TEAM SCOFFED AT ON ARRIVAL HOME FROM AFRICAN CUP Crowds of angry Luanda inhabitants February 18 flocked to the international airport "to receive" the national soccer team "Palancas Negras". The team failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the 21st edition of the African Cup of Nations (CAN/98) in Burkina Faso.
Angola was eliminated by Ivory Coast (2-5) in the 3rd round of the cup after earlier hopes that the team stood a chance of qualifying after scoring 2 points in previous matches against South Africa and Namibia.
The anger of fans in particular, and almost the whole nation in general, emerged right after the first round match of CAN group C when Angola drew with South Africa (0-0). Viewers and reporters said the team left much to be desired and blamed coach Manuel Gomes "Necas" for opting for "unnecessarily excessive tactics".
Upon arrival at Luanda Airport the players, and most especially the coach, had to be escorted out by the police as there were those who wanted to resort to violence in their frustration.
The president of the Angolan football federation, MP Armando Machado, who had accompanied the team and is also held responsible for what is being called a national shame, is being asked to resign.
Critics say that in the spite of the cultural ties with Portugal, Angola should stop contracting Portuguese coaches as is usual and seek more skilled trainers "in the most advanced schools" such as France and England, among other European countries.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 21:06:00 +0100 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #10 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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