UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE
Edition #7 28 December 1997
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Feature: FINANCIAL 'PHANTOM' SCANDAL
A survey conducted earlier this year has made the Angolan government realize that it has wasted considerable amounts of money paying salaries to workers who do not exist. More recently, a financial scandal uncovered at the CAP bank in Luanda has made more than the government realize that in general 'phantoms' are everywhere to be found in Angola. In the report about the financial scandal it was said that the theft of billions of dollars at CAP partly involved "phantom business people," referring in this to people claiming to own businesses which in reality never existed but were nonetheless receiving loans! Things started hotting up in late 1996, when the government of prime minister Franca Van-Dunem announced before parliament that they were preparing reforms in the civil service as they suspected the existence of many cases of "phantom employees". Such reforms included the establishment of new criteria both for admissions and promotions, improved salaries, tighter control and more efficiency in the civil service, then estimated to contain 300,000 workers. It now seems that the results of this have started to emerge.
Finance minister Mario de Alcantara Monteiro recently said that the latest statistics showed that the number of civil servants had now come down to less than 200,000 people. This means that the rest were "leftovers," and that these were found to be the so-called phantom workers. These 'phantom workers' would permanently appear on the pay roles of different ministries,where now directors and accountants are being accused of adding forged names of workers to their pay lists.
In some cases these included people who had died or simply people who never existed but whose salaries were being shared by these directors and accountants. So far the figures released only refer to the civil service but it is also believed that hundreds of other false employees are to be found in the army and police though neither in fact ever attracted the larger amounts of state funds.
The government has so far failed to say whether the administrative reforms extended to the armed forces and the police.
The most unfortunate occurance in this whole mess is that according to well-informed sources, government also deliberately held back the salaries of genuine civil servants for four months, allegedly as part of efforts to curb inflation, since it was feared that salaries were causing the informal currency market to shoot up with the dollar rate. At present, there is a gap of approximately 40 per cent between the official and the informal exchange rates for the US dollar.
Government officials have, however, denied this and say that the delays in salary payments have been caused by the inability of some state-funded institutions to successfully work out their pay lists in line with the new control instructions issued by the finance ministry following on the reforms. However, opposition leaders and some members of the public have great difficultly in believing these excuses.
But, truth or fiction, thousands of civil servants risk entering the new year with no salary. Stories:
1. UNITED STATES CLOSES UNITA OFFICES
On December 14 President Clinton ordered the closing of all UNITA offices in the United States in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1135 which imposes an "additional" diplomatic and economic ban on the main Angolan opposition movement.
President Clinton also banned both UNITA officials and their close relatives from entering the United States except those serving with the Angolan government of unity and national reconciliation (GURN), the parliament and the UN-mediated Joint Commission, a body in charge of overseeing the implementation of the Angolan peace plan, according to diplomatic sources. With this, the United States becomes the third UN member state since October 30 to officially announce the closure of UNITA bureaus. Portugal and France were the first ones to enforce the sanctions.
UNITA insists the sanctions are "completely unfair" and accuses the Clinton administration of siding with the Angolan ruling MPLA party, a view also shared by the US AFAD organization which protested Clinton's decision as "unfortunate and harmful to the peace process in Angola".
2. SANTOS-SAVIMBI MEETING POSTPONED AGAIN
The planned direct talks between president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in order to help advance the Angolan peace process which is now at a standstill, have been adjourned to 1998. In November, President dos Santos announced that he and Jonas Savimbi had had a telephone conversation and agreed to meet in early December in Angola's capital, Luanda. It is not yet clear why the talks have been postponed. Reports say it is because Savimbi has resumed his allegations of a "lack of security conditions" in Luanda.
Upon his return from an operation to his right Achilles tendon in Brazil, Dos Santos said that his health was quite good and that he could well work normally in his office or attend meetings during his six-month recovery period. Only days before US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started her tour of Africa, reports in Luanda said she had arranged to meet Savimbi in Luanda on December 12 in a bid to encourage him into dialogue with President Dos Santos. This plan was promptly dismissed by UNITA officials in Luanda who insisted that there was still a lack of conditions of security for their leader.
Last year, Mr Savimbi also did not meet with the former US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, who had wanted to meet with Savimbi in Luanda during an official visit.
The last time Santos and Savimbi met in direct talks was on March 1 1996, in Libreville in Gabon.
3. HEALTH WORKERS STILL ON STRIKE
Hospitals in Angola's capital Luanda and in some of the inner provinces remain closed as workers continue a strike started November 24 over salaries. The strikers are also demanding that government improve working conditions at all hospitals in the country.There are now mounting fears that workers at other ministries might join the strike.
To make things worse, billions of Angolan "Kwanza reajustado" meant for salaries at the country's main maternity hospital "Lucrecia Paim," were recently stolen by thieves in broad daylight in a Luanda street. The robbers are still at large but the police are holding the accountant at Lucrecia Paim, who is suspected of masterminding the robbery. 4. DEFENCE AND HOME AFFAIRS TAKE LEAD IN STATE BUDGET
Twenty five per cent of the total of Angola's 1998 state budget will be taken up by the defence and home affairs services. This was recently decided at a meeting of the council of ministers held in Luanda.
This will keep these two areas as the main priority in Angola's expenditure next year, with an amount estimated at 1.384 trillion Kwanzas (about USD 5.1 billion). This is twice as much compared to the budget planned for 1997. The 1998 budget is now to be submitted to parliament where bitter argument and controversy are expected especially when it comes to the amounts allocated to the areas of health and education, critisized by many as being too little.
For the ministries of health and education, this time there has been a slight increase in the budget allocations (each with 5 percent of the total amount against about 2 percent each in previous fundings) but critics insist that the state should increasingly cut down on the expenses for defence to benefit more the areas of health and education, which are the most impoverished.
5. GOVERNMENT DEADLINE FOR UNITA TO MAKE PEACE
The angolan government has asked Jonas Savimbi's UNITA movement to "scrupulously" complete all its obligations in the ongoing peace process by January 22, 1998.
In a new timetable recently submitted both to the international mediators and to UNITA itself, the government says that the steps UNITA should finalize by January 22 include the surrender to the UN mission (MONUA) of soldiers still armed, and their weaponry, as well as full cooperation in the normalizing of state administration throughout the country, especially in such key locations as Bailundo, Andulo (in central region), Cazombo (east) and Jamba (southeast). A demand has also been issued to UNITA to produce a public declaration stating the time plan for the end of the demobilization process.
MONUA officials have repeatedly accused UNITA of unilaterally suspending the implementation of the peace process by putting a stop to the surrender of large tracts of the country's territory to the government. This is allegedly in retaliation for the UN security council sanctions of October 30. Because of this, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned of tighter sanctions if UNITA persistently takes no steps to implement the tasks stipulated in the 1994 Lusaka peace plan.
6.UN-MEDIATED COMMISSION: MILITARY SITUATION CALM
The Angolan UN-mediated Joint Commission (JC), which is monitoring the peace process, said in a recent statement that the military situation in the country has slightly improved "despite some tension persisting in certain regions".
The JC noted, however, that cases of "some acts of landmine planting and of banditry" were reported in five of the country's 18 provinces namely Uige, Malanje, Lunda-Norte (north) and Bie and Huila (south). It expressed worry that the process of normalizing state administration in the country is experiencing "some delays" with government authority restored in only 212 of the predicted 344 locations.
Officials with MONUA in the northern region said recently that on UNITA's request they had suspended the state administration restoring process in Uige province, allegedly because of troops concentrated in the region. They said that UNITA had told them not to carry out such an operation at the Sanza Pombo village because it would be risky, "taking into account the large number of soldiers concentrated there".
7.NEW OIL STRIKE
A new oil well has been discovered by the French firm Elf Aquitaine, 200 kilometres from Angola's capital Luanda, with reserves estimated at 1,250 tonnes.
A recent press release issued by the concessionary Angolan oil society (SONANGOL) and by Elf said that the new well named "Dalia-2" was rigged 1250 metres deep offshore in the so-called block 17 and is expected to produce about 700 million barrels. The strike took place about six months after Elf dug two other huge reserves also in block 17 which were named "Girassol" and "Dalia" and which, together with the Dalia-2, amount to a 20 per cent increase in Elf reserves now put at 3,300 million barrels.
Operating in block 17 are Elf with 35 percent, Exxon (20), BP (16.67), Statoil (13,33), Norsk-Hydro (10) and Fina (5).
8. EU'S $15 MILLION FOR SOCIAL PROJECTS
The European Union (EU) recently announced it is to fund a community rehabilitation programme in Angola's southern Huila province in the sum of US$15 million.
A EU representative in Angola, Mr Salvador Rodrigues, was quoted in local media as saying that the money for the project was made available in February this year but implementation was waiting on political and military stability in the region. He said that the priority of the programme would be placed on actions for the repair and construction of health centres, schools, roads and water and power supply networks in seven municipalities of Huila (Caconda, Caluquembe, Jamba, Quilengues, Chipindo, Cuvango and Chicomba).
Similar programmes will be implemented by the European Union in the southern provinces of Namibonlye and Cunene.
9. CARS AT TOP OF IMPORTS
With about 70 per cent of the population below the poverty line, Angola is still said to have spent $141.5 million on car imports last year. This corresponds to 11.56 percent of total expenditure.
Data just published by a local weekly reported that
the total amount recorded by the trade ministry of
imports in the same period was about $2.4 billion.
Surprisingly, the paper said, the second major import
was of beverages which totaled $108.584 million with
raw material for the milling industry coming next with
$100.559 million which represented 8.21 percent. Such
foods as milk and derivatives, eggs and meat attracted
$40 million in all, whereas medicines took up $17.9
million, chemicals $7.6 and books, newspapers and printing
material $4.7 million.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 11:14:29 +0100 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #7 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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