UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Angola: Peace Statement
Date distributed (ymd): 990701
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Southern Africa Issue Areas: +political/rights+
This posting contains a statement from the Angolan Group of Reflection for Peace (GARP), calling for Angolans at all levels to engage in dialogue to promote a new climate for peace and sustainable development in that country.
Also posted today: Angola Peace Monitor for June 30, 1999
[Note: A longer version of this document to be posted on the Africa Policy Web Site also contains an earlier statement from GARP dated April 2, 1999, as well as the June 22 letter below. See http://www.africapolicy.org/docs99/ang9906a.htm.]
Grupo Angolano de Reflexao para a Paz (GARP) [Angolan Group of Reflection for Peace]
Peace Through Dialogue: Patriotism and Solidarity or Betrayal!
Let Us Use Dialogue to Achieve Permanent Solution To the National Conflict
Publication of GARP
[Members of the group are Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, Theologian, Anthropologist and Pastor; Carlinhos Zassala, Psychologist and Professor at the Agostinho Neto University; Filomeno Vieira Lopes, Economist; Francisco Tunga Alberto, General Secretary of FONGA (Federation of Angolan Non-Governmental Organizations); Ana Conceicao Pedro Garcia, Trade Unionist; Gaspar Domingos, Theologian and Pastor; Rafael Marques, Journalist.]
For more information contact via Rafael Marques, fax 244-2-34- 36-67 or via Rev. Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, c/o American Friends Service Committee, P.O. Box 4921, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa; tel: 27-11-838-4807/8; fax 27-11-838-7139; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 June, 1999
To: Angolan Compatriots, Friends of Angola and Comrades in the Struggle for Peace and Justice in Africa Today
My dear Compatriots, Friends and Comrades,
Greetings from Luanda, capital city of the Republic of Angola.
As you all know, this is a country that is devastated by wars. I said wars, because there are too many wars taking place at the same time. One is the military war which is obvious and physically devastating as it destroys hundred of thousands of lives and families, villages and farms, bridges and factories, towns and cities. This is the war everybody is talking about even those living in cities such as Luanda which have yet to experience, at this stage, the heat of the new but most sophisticated arms recently brought into the country by the warring parties.
The second war is moral and psychological. This war has been eroding the sense of patriotism and national sovereignty. It is, in fact a natural consequence which has also become a cause of the ongoing military and economic wars. As a matter of fact, this war undermines the destiny of the people and nation of Angola, precipitating, thus, the total collapse of the social fabric of the Angolan society. The morale of the people - whether peasants or traders, workers or managers, soldiers or governors, students or teachers - is very low. This war is dispossessing Angolans of the traditional pride of being citizens of the sovereign and combatant populations of Angola.
Experience demonstrates that there are very few who are still concerned genuinely with the life of the nation we all belong to. The majority have succumbed to survival strategies which sustain the culture of violence.Almost everyone is much concerned with what can enable him/her to be alive tomorrow but not many are still willing to risk the little they have and work for the common good. Stories about compatriots who have decided to fight fire with fire are many but not all of them stand the test of history as we hear that some are part of politically motivated processes. Embarrassingly, this is not the way Angolans responded to the unjust wars imposed upon them by Portuguese colonialism, the two ideological belligerents of the cold war era and the apartheid regime of South Africa.
The third war is economic. This war is an essential part of the global economics of war which has turned vices such as corruption and greed into values. This has almost legitimised, successfully though, the culture of violence by reinforcing its values of individualism and selfish security . There is no doubt that corruption as well as the policies of laisser faire have always been in place but they have gained much power during the last decade. For this reason, dispossession has become a common trend. For example, in the capital city of Luanda, indigenous Angolans are moving towards peripheral residential areas of the city, leaving the most secure spaces inside the city centre to foreigners who pay exorbitant sums for the relative comfort. The majority of those adopting this scheme are doing it in order to complement their income and be able to attend to the daily needs of their families and immediate relatives.
Ironically, this strategy was first adopted by top government officials, who, ten to fifteen years ago, attributed themselves luxurious houses at a low cost which they now rent to foreigners for incredible sums of money while still charging the state for house allowances. This aspect of the economics of war has also made it impossible for people without money to settle in the new urbanised areas of the capital city where the right to land occupation is now determined by the dollar factor.
Another aspect of this war consist of the mismanagement of human resources. As indicated very recently in an article about the inadequate use by Sonangol of qualified human resources with university degrees, who are leaving the company to go and work in subsidiaries of foreign companies based within Angola. This process of brain drain, as it is called elsewhere, debilitates the capacity of the Angolan people and state to be in charge of the economy, making sustainable development impossible. Subsequently and because of the dictates of globalisation, many of the so-called friendly foreign investors have been strengthening their capacity on the ground to take out from Angola as much as they want without effective control by the respective national institutions.
Using the current confusion in the country, contracts are being signed most of which mortgage the future of Angola as huge quantities of our precious resources, such as oil and diamonds, are given away in exchange for dollars and arms. These deals and subsequent contracts weaken further the technical and administrative capacity of the state institutions as personal gains dictate the purposes and use of the acquired equipment and money. Worse is the fact that the economics of war have created a culture of robbery which enable both political and military leaders to misappropriate national, especially mineral, resources under the pretext of private entrepreneurial initiatives. Stories from the war zones also reveal that low ranking political activists and soldiers have also joined their superiors in taking advantage of the vulnerability of ordinary citizens, especially those in war torn zones, to dispossess them of basic resources and property such as clothes, money, furniture and even houses.
This means that the war of dispossession has reached a stage which makes everybody vulnerable in the face of the power of gun. Because of this, new social and economic relations are being established, reinforcing hence the already painful social and economic imbalances, which are essentially part of the root causes of the present crisis. This also means that foreign actors involved in such operations are taking part in processes of robbery and dispossession which still force the Angolan nation to surrender steadily its control over the national economic resources and management to foreign forces. Ironically, these and/or their allies have also been advising the government and the armed opposition on the type of economic and financial policies to adopt, thus determining, indirectly though, the popular economic behaviour and ethics which continue to inflict painful experiences upon the Angolan people and nation.
The most terrifying dimension of the economics of war is embedded in the sale and purchase of deadly arms and weaponry which are maiming and destroying hundreds of thousand of Angolans who live as hostages in territories controlled by the power of guns. We now know that about 1.9 millions of Angolans have been displaced from their homes while about 2.3 millions are still living in their usual residential areas but under the threat of either displacement or total destruction.
Ironically, these sons and daughters of our beloved mother land are now being marketed to the world humanitarian industry by the authors of their misery. Therefore, it is right to say that such populations are the obvious victims of the more than 3 billions dollars, spent on their behalf, in arms and equipment during the last twelve month. It is very unfortunate that both sides of the armed conflict only know how to use public resources to purchase arms and other deadly means while leaving to the mercy of the people of good will through the world charitable institutions to attend to the needs of the victims of their war. This is the tragedy we are called to face with love, courage and honesty.
In response to these developments, an Angolan Group of Reflection for Peace (Grupo Angolano de Refleixao para a Paz - GARP) was created on a Easter Friday in April this year. This was the culmination of reflections that have been taking place in different forms and places among ordinary citizens of the country. The group that formed GARP met on a number of occasions during the week of Easter to reflect on the situation in the country and concluded that dialogue is the only viable road to peace, which implies that war cannot bring peace. In other words, the group chose to stand against the official positions of the armed opposition and ruling parties, that is, of UNITA and the government, which have opted respectively for war as a means to settle the protracted conflict.
On a personal note, I must say that the publication of this statement, on a Easter Friday, add an important element to the significance of the statement which continues to inspire my own commitment to the peace process. In publishing such a statement, at the time the majority chose silence while the warriors flex their muscles, members of the group opted for risking their own lives by swimming into dangerous waters. Secondly, the fact that five ordinary citizens decided to promote dialogue and made public their choice on a Easter Friday also means that they opened a new phase in the struggle against the culture of violence which continues to express itself through wars of dispossession.
After a month of work together, the group of five decided to expand so that its principle of inclusiveness and national cohesion develops right from the beginning. Hence, new members are joining the group, especially women and young people from all walks of life, on the sole basis that they are committed to work for lasting peace in the country. The Group has been working presently on a Manifesto para Paz (Peace Manifesto) which is now available and intended to spearhead contacts with leaders of religious, civic and political sectors of the Angolan society as well as in seeking the solidarity of the international community.
The third step of this process is to promote a movement of Angolans for Peace, which should catalyse popular participation through both reflections and actions by the civil society towards lasting peace in Angola. The envisaged movement is expected to be a national platform of social movements and organisations that adhere to the principles of peaceful settlement of the national conflict. The process is to promote guidelines, principles and actions that may serve as premise for lasting peace and democratic governance in Angola.
In order to consolidate such an endeavour and sustain the culture of peace and sustainable development, the GARP also intends to facilitate the establishment of an instrument which should serve as a centre for strategic studies and actions, a home for peace makers and builders with technical know how that may support the Movement of Angolans for Peace. I am pleased to say that many Angolans and Friends of the Angolan people have expressed interest in joining hands with GARP so that the whole country and the world at large adhere to the agenda of peace in Angola today.
To achieve these goals, the GARP decided to promote a campaign of sensitisation which should encourage solidarity by the people and nations of the world with the people and nation of Angola. This is to be done through contacts with social movements, governments and inter-government institutions of the international community. The main purpose of this campaign is to share the following principles adopted by the group for achieving peace, which are to be shared with civic organisations inside and outside the country:
1. Dialogue is the only road to peace, which means that talks between Angolans on the root causes and their consequences must:
start sooner rather than latter;
stop the option of killing each other now and leaving talks for latter;
be inclusive both in terms of issues and participation;
forge national consensus which should produce the overdue project of the Angola we want;
2. Angola needs a lasting peace, which implies that:
peace through military victory will only delay prospects for permanent resolution of the conflict;
Angolans must avoid another temporary (military based) solution, as it happened in 1975/6, 1992 and 1994 but work for a long lasting settlement of the protracted national conflict;
the next peace process must be inclusive, that is people's oriented, and sustained by the cardinal principles of democratic governance;
3. Angolans must initiate and be in charge of the next round of negotiations for peace, which should:
provide the country with a credible start of a culture of peace and democratic governance;
outline principles, strategies and policy guidelines that express the fundamental aspirations of the people towards sustainable peace and development.
We believe firmly that internal initiatives must be supported by the solidarity movement for them to bear the desired fruits. For this reason, visits to local places and national institutions are being planned for the GARP to share its vision for peace and for the country we want with all sectors of the Angolan nation.These visits are also intended to create space for dialogue and to seek the solidarity of the peace loving people of this world in support of our resolve for lasting peace in Angola. The next step will be a visit to regional and international cities and institutions in Southern Africa, Europe and America.
The third and most important step is to take place in September which may take the form of a National Convention for Peace. The meeting is intended to gather representatives of the Angolan civil society movement and define principles and strategies that may contribute to the emergence of active solidarity among social movements inside and outside the country towards a culture of peace and sustainable development in Angola. The envisaged national gathering is expected to consolidate the struggle for peace and become the national platform of the Angolan movements and organisations interested in working together for Peace and Development.
Therefore, simultaneously to the exercise outlined above, the GARP is working on a process and principles that may bring about a new Angolan vision for peace and development which should outline the values of the Angola we want. Angolans, inside and outside the country, who want and are committed to a lasting solution to the national conflict, will be invited to participate in the production and dissemination of this important document as an expression of their commitment to lasting peace. Eminent Personalities from all walks of life are being approached for this and we are pleased to have already registered the support of many.
We know that there are many initiatives taking place at this very moment. We do not intend to represent all of them but want to be part of the emerging movement towards peace so that we may contribute significantly to the new and long awaited era of peaceful. Your solidarity in support of the peace initiatives in Angola today is crucial. Allow me, therefore, to also remind you that your continued active solidarity with the people of Angola today is the only best way of honouring and even rewarding the sacrifices made by the heroic people and nation of Angola during the last onslaught of the African liberation process against colonialism and its surrogate, the apartheid regime in Southern Africa. The opposite to this is and will always be an act of betrayal of a nation that has paid the highest price, sacrificing the lives of its own children, its national dignity and economic resources in support of the world solidarity with the racially based oppression of the peoples and nations of Southern Africa.
My dear friends and comrades in the struggle for peace, we are running behind time, especially as the wars mentioned above are reinforcing trends towards desperation and total destruction of the Angolan society.As a wise African said to us one of these days, this is not the time for peace loving people to relax but work speedily for solutions towards sustainable peace and development.
Looking forwards to receiving suggestions, from you all, about what we can do together for peace to become real in the lives of all Angolans today and forever.
Optemos Pelo Dialogo Para a Solucao Definitiva Do Conflito Nacional.
Let Us Opt for Dialogue to Achieve Permanent Solution To the National Conflict.
Coordinator Grupo Angolano de Reflexao para a Paz (GARP)
Message-Id: <199907020320.XAA01380@server.africapolicy.org> From: email@example.com Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 22:08:44 -0500 Subject: Angola: Peace Statement
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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