Angola News Online (1) - 10/11/97

Angola News Online (1) - 10/11/97


Edition #3 11 October 1997

Subscribe to Angola News Online

A fortnightly update of news from Angola!


In this edition:
















Officially, September 17 is Angola's "national hero day". It is a reminder both of the birthday and the funeral of the founder of the nation, the late Dr Antonio Agostinho Neto (1922-1979) after he "proclaimed to Africa and to the entire world" the country's independence from Portugal in 1975.

He died on September 10 in the USSR after an unsuccessful surgical operation. But like so many other cases of African leaders,including that of Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Neto's death is still conjectured as mysterious and ideologically motivated, with many of his close friends promising that they will keep up investigations until the real causes of "his killing" are discovered.

One of the points common suspicions is the alleged attempt by Agostinho Neto to drop Marxism-Leninism at a time that might have not been to the liking of the Soviets."I had a suspicion long before he died. This was especially because even had already been dubbed as anti-Soviet and anti-Cuban. And when there are labels that someone is anti this, anti that, then one had better be careful," says Mr Luis Neto Kiambata,who claims to be among the closest friends of Agostinho Neto.In the late 70s he was appointed by the "Hero," as the first Angolan ambassador to Cuba. This was shortly after the crushed 1977 coup attempt by the late Nito Alves, then internal administration minister and widely rumoured as the most beloved of the Soviets at that time for his well known "mastery" of Marxist-Leninist theory which was, however, viewed by the majority of his partyís less skilled comrades as a threat to their positions.

"Yes I do have this idea," he said in a recent interview when asked if he had kept for all these years the idea that the president was assented. Claiming not to be the sole person in Africa who is investigating the issue, he said there were also academics in Nigeria, Zambia and other countries inquiring about the deaths of other leaders: Mourtala Mohamed, Houari Boumediene, Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel among others.But the unexpected bomb about the matter went off this year, on the75th birthday of Neto.

For the first time since her husband died, widow Maria Eugenia Neto finally dropped the curtain of anonymity to open her heart and direct fierce criticism at the government and its ruling MPLA partyfor what she called the "silencing of the name" of her former husband.She implicitly accused those in power now, and who fought the liberation struggle side by side with the husband, of betraying the ideals of Neto,who is also founding president of MPLAand Angolaís most well known poet and nationalist inAngola's history.

Mrs Neto said she was disgusted with the way the government and Neto's party authorities were treating the urn containing his remains which have been moved to an half-built mausoleum full of rats and cockroaches, unlit and abandoned. Some of the local independent media devoted columns to the statements of the Portuguese-born author Maria Neto, as well as to reactions from different politicians, intellectuals and ordinary citizens.Among those who reacted were mostly MPLA militants and supporterswhose divergent comments showed that the party itself is divided on whether they should eternalize the name and ideals of Neto, despitethe political and economic transformations the country has gonethrough or might still go through in thefuture.

In most cases, the opinions favoured Mrs Neto.Especially those expressed by less influential party militants and some youths who remarked that, for instance, the young generation knows "almostnothing about the man who did so much for our independence and that this was because the establishment neglects the issue". "We should not talk of Neto only on September 17. He deserves more and the State and the civil society could well promote initiatives for telling the youth of today who Neto had been in the history of the country,"said a Luanda-based private LAC FM radio listener, who claimed to be a member of one of the opposition parties.

The main targets of the criticism was, however, reserved for President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Premier Fernando Franca Van-Dunem, and alltheir closest aides both in the government and in the party, seen as the would-be actual "heirs" of the "nation builder". The peak of the public anger was found at Bengo, a small province in north Angola and birthplace not only to Neto but also to manyof the current cabinet ministers including Pedro de Castro Van-Dunem "Loy," who very recently died. Mr was in Bengo on September 17 to officiate on behalf of the prime minister at the ritual "central act" of the hero's anniversary celebrations.The mission was not that easy.

In Bengo all he found was a crowd of hungry and angry old people who allegedly were visibly disgusted by the attitude of their Luanda-based (cabinet)"Sons" towards not only the case of, as they put it, "your defunct brother," but also with relation to the basic problems hitting the province.Lashing out at the countryís rulers "especially you boys who are sons of this province and have certainly got enough money but have simply forgotten us to the extent of not even caring about Bengo's nothaving tap water since independence," they said that they saw no point in cabinet ministers visiting the place only on September 17.

Ironically, and perhaps the then minister did not correctly understand the message from the critics, he described the result of his visit to Bengo as "the due homage to the first president of Angola"."(...) he continues to be the mirror of many of us at this troubled moment in our life as a nation," he said adding that "his thought translated into actions that touch and will always touch all of us, the loyal disciples who will never forget (when he said) that 'the most important is to resolve t the problems of the people'". He invited those reluctant to believe in his words to visit Bengo's provincial capital Catete in 1998 "and watch with their own eyes the transformations that will occur in that location," in an clear allusion to eventual government plans to improve the living of Bengoís inhabitants.

When talking about Neto, Mr Loy told the crowd: "He is a man who suffered and fought for all Angolans and for whose ideals we shall all act for the benefit of those people who constituted the heart of his concern. These people were the most humble, the illiterate and those who had no access to wealth".

What Mr Loy said on that day, according to members of the public and some intellectuals,conveyed a certain sense of "shameful hypocrisyand a clear paradox" as it contradicted the practical actions.

Surprisingly, Mr Pedro de Castro Van-Dunem "Loy" (55), third vice-prime minister in 1976, minister of energy and oil (1980), of foreign affairs (1989), Central Bank (BNA) board of directors chairman (1993), and minister of public works and urbanism from 1996, died of a heart attack on the anniversary of the funeral of Dr. Neto and just six days after his departure from their common birthplace.

Was it accidental or fatal coincidence? STORIES:


The United Nations Angola observer mission (MONUA), recently accused the UNITA rebel movement of "deliberately provoking disorder" at the ceremonies meant for their hand-over of different locations to Government administration.

On September 19 a group of more than 20 organized young boys unexpectedly pushed their way through a crowd which was being introduced to the new local government officials at Camabatela Village in northern Kwanza-Norte province, to protest at the current national Flag which was about to be hoisted and which they claimed not be representative of national reconciliation.

MONUAís northern regional representative, Colonel Mario Araujo of Brazil, identified the group as UNITA supporters and warned ofeventual measures to be taken against such attitudes of UNITA and that these consequences "shall not be blamed on the United Nations".

The disorder launched by the UNITA supporters caused the provincial governor, Mr Pedro Pacavira, to cancel the speech he was delivering while introducing the new Camabatela authorities as part of the process of restoring State authority in the areas still held by UNITA throughout the country. Jonas Savimbiís movement has carried out many such disorders at many ceremonies of this kind and one of the most serious took place at the start of the process early this year at Kibala village, in the central coastal Kwanza-Sul province, when UNITA supporters beat up current vice minister for territorial administration, Nzau Puna, in the presence of other senior government officials and UN observers.

The attackers accused the victim of "treason" as he was one of the senior UNITA officials who quit the movement shortly before the1992 general elections. Mr Puna was then secretary general of UNITA and had defected along with the then foreign secretary of the movement and current Angolan ambassador to UK, Mr Tony da Costa Fernandes.Also beaten up on that day was Mr Isaias Samakuva, the incumbent UNITA delegate on the Luanda based UN-brokered Joint Commission (JC), the body which oversees the implementation of the Lusaka peace protocol. Both were immediately rushed to the central military hospital in Luanda with head injuries.


Last minute "positive" moves by Angola's UNITA movement prompted the UN Security Council to delay for another 30 days a planned package of sanctions which was to come into effect on September 30, seeing this as the final opportunity for Jonas Savimbiís guerrillas to complete "definitively" their tasks in the peace process.

A spokesman for the UN Angola mission (MONUA), said in Luanda that the UNITA surrender of two of the five key villages, namely Negage on September 29, and Kwango on the following day, were the most crucial steps behind the sanctions postponement. Negage is a militarily strategic area in the northern Uige province because of its well-located airports near the border with the former Zaire, whereas Kwango is said to be the largest and most important diamond mining area of the country, lying in the northeastern diamond-rich province also on the border with the democratic Republic of Congo.

The Security Council said that because the Secretary-General had said in his report that Jonas Savimbi's UNITA had not satisfactorily met its obligations towards the peace process, "the council found it convenient to give one more chance for the movement to fully implement the remaining tasks".

Although not surprising, the move disappointed Angola's ruling MPLA party and some political analysts in Luanda who see this asìexcessive flexibility of the Security Council and, subsequently, a victory for UNITA diplomacy".

An MPLA spokesman said UNITA "only complied with the least significant part of its obligations and left undone other such highly important issues as demilitarization, transforming its Vorgan radio into an unpartisan, commercial facility, and the hand over of the other three remaining key locations (Mavinga, Andulo and Bailundo).


Portugal has put aside funding of US$700 000 to assist with preliminary feasibility studies for a project aimed at rehabilitating the "Malanje Corridor," which consists of a railway and road across the north and east part of Angola, sources in Luanda announced.

The initial phase of the project is to attract US$30 million and, according to the Angolan firm "Tecnocarro," which is in charge ofthe works, they are also planning to stretch the corridor up to the Katanga region in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC),connecting the Angolan provinces of Luanda, Malanje, Lundas (north) and Moxico (east).

Tecnocarro engineer, Galvao Branco, says that once repaired the corridor could transport 600,000 long distance passengers and 1.5 million others on the inter-urban lines, every year from theyear 2000. About 800 000 tonnes of cargo, could eventually be ferried between Angola and RDC.


Zambian government officials have confirmed earlier reports that their airspace was repeatedly violated by foreign irregular flights carrying supplies to UNITA rebels in the Angolan territory during the last few months.

Minister for presidential affairs, Mr Eric Louamba, said recently in Luanda that as part of actions taken by his government, a South African aviation firm involved in these irregular and illegal flights was expelled from Lusaka and that further measures were also taken against the Zambian nationals involved.

He said such flights would at takeoff give their flight pattern as heading for the neighbouring Congo only to later, once in flight, alter the route and head into Angola to drop arms and food supplies to Jonas Savimbiís UNITA guerrillas. Mr Louamba came to Luanda along with his colleague for Defence, Mr Benjamin Yoran Mwila, to discuss matters of bilateral interest on security and defence at the 14th Angola-Zambia inter-ministerial session.

The meeting concentrated on security at the common border following insistent complaints by the Angolan authorities that UNITA guerrillas were using the Zambian territory for fighting against the Angolan armed forces (FAA). According to the Angolan defence minister, General Pedro Sebastiao,there has been a decline in the "good neighbourhood" ties, which relates to the common border security whereby armed clashes between FAA and UNITA have discouraged "a permanent contact" between the authorities of both countries.

General Sebastio said that with the 14th session he expected major realism and objectivity towards a more harmonious relationship between the two African nations.Zambia's defence minister promised that his government would strictly enforce the recommendations produced at the 14th session as,he added, the actual intention of president Frederick Chiluba'sstaff "is to strengthen relations in defence and security and put an end to the misunderstandings which were caused by armed elements of UNITA who move along the border".


The World Health Organization (WHO) has promised it will deeply engage itself in efforts to change the "bad" image the international community has on the current political situation in Angola.

WHO regional director, Mr Ibrahim Samba said during a recent visit to Luanda that WHO was preparing to organize seminars worldwide informing people that despite war "there are Angolans interested in the development of the country". "When I announced that I was coming to Angola, many advised me to be careful," he said, adding that "I was told that in that country all you can see are armed soldiers wandering in the streets". But, he said, "once here I came to find out that there was a certain distortion of the realty. I have visited Huambo and Bie (provinces), the most devastated by the war but saw no soldier there neither did I step on a landmine". He said "I can only see that the people of Angola are going through the aftermath of the war but they will rid themselves of thislethargy since this is what the people want".

Samba said he would talk to the WHO directorgeneral and the World Bank to persuade them into channeling moreaid to Angola.He also said that WHO priorities in Angola at present include the transfer of skilled personnel from the capital Luanda to the hinterland provinces accessible to all aid agencies so that the funds can reach all regions of the country.


Reports from most of Angola's 18 provinces including the capital Luanda say that the number of public school teachers abandoning lessons to seek new jobs because of the "misery salaries" offered by the government is increasingly worrying.

Some of the teachers accept jobs in foreign firms or organizations and other private and local companies expected to pay "reasonable" salaries.In the central coastal Benguela province, for instance, teachers at some of the local primary schools - possibly not qualifying for ëbetterí jobs - were said to have joined the police force just because a policeman is better paid than a teacher. Policemen receive a minimum of the equivalent of US$100 and teachers US$20 per month.

In Sumbe, the provincial capital for Kwanza-Sul and also on the central coast, the sole public school existing in the town has almost had to close as the teachers have left to work with NGOs operating in the province. In most cases the school directors claim that there is nothing they can do since the problems facing the area of education in Angola can only be worked out within a global perspective and, consequently, depend on the economic policy of the central government. The central government, however,keeps its State budget priority on the police and armed forces.

Teachers trade unionists in Luanda, who in April dropped a strike they started in February this year, said they were considering the resumption of it now as the government remains reluctant to increase teachers salaries as promised at the negotiations which led to the lifting of the strike.


The Angolan anti-landmines campaign (CABM), recently urged both the government and the parliament to urgently work on internal legislation banning the sale, use, transfer and storage of landmines.

A CABM's note says they were hopeful that Angola, with about10 million landmines planted during the war, will sign the Ottawa treaty banning the manufacture and trading of landmines across the world.Welcoming South Africa for being one of the first countries to declare the destruction of their landmines and armament stocks,the CABM also hailed those whose efforts ended in the draft of the final treaty for the total prohibition of mines.

Angola is part of the group of 64 countries which have signed the Brussels Declaration on the elimination of landmines.The signing took place at an ICRC sponsored conference in theBelgium capital on June 27 which was attended by delegations from 164 countries and which drew up the draft of the treaty to be signed this year in Canada.

Months after the late Diana, Princess of Wales joined the ICRC anti-mines campaign in Angola, the international committee of the red cross in July again brought to Angola a football star from Switzerland,Christophe Bonvin, to help in the drive to collect funds for victims of landmines as part of the global campaign against anti-personnel mines.

Mr Bonvin visited orthopedic centres in Luanda, Bie and Huambo and played a football game with two teams of handicapped players.


A military delegation from the United States left Luanda on September 27 after launching the first phase of a programme for international military education named "IMET" under which members of the Angolan armed forces (FAA), will benefit from US-sponsored training and instruction programmes.

Colonel Charles Dorman was the leader of the delegation which in Luanda surveyed the actual situation of FAA military justice. They contacted senior officials with the Supreme court, the Attorneyship General, and the Military court.

A group of Angolan lawyers is also preparing to visit the United States for more contacts with military justice institutions there whereas others will be attending a course on new legal aspects relating to military operations and peacekeeping. This will take place before the arrival in Luanda of American experts tasked with conducting a set of periodical executive seminars to be attended by Angolan army members.

Colonel Charles Dorman said before departing for the United States that he was grateful and extremely impressed at the professionalism demonstrated by FAA and also at the attitude of their leaders towards boosted relations between Angola and the United State of America.


Mining experts gathered in Luanda in late September have recommended that the government reformulate its current legislation on geological and mineral activities to provide incentive to the promotion of the private sector in line with the international principles of the mining industry.

They said at a World Bank sponsored seminar that to reactivate mining it was crucial to reduce the discretionary power of the State enshrined in the current law on mines and re-adjust the procedures for the concession of mining rights adapted to the situation of a market economy. In a statement they said that: "it is a must to introduce fiscal incentives for serious mining projects and put an end to the exclusion of individuals in the granting of mineral rights as this translates into an attitude of discrimination favouring the big companies to the detriment of individual initiatives.

Insisting on the need for major transparency and simplification in the granting of mining rights they further maintained that because mining activities are at present concentrated on diamonds, licensing procedures should be revised towards other projects for mineral resources available in Angola, such as metals (precious and basic), industrial minerals, ornamental rocks and mineral waters, among others.

Official sources in Luanda say, however,the State has abdicated its monopoly over access to exploration of mineral resources and introduced free initiatives. These have allegedly brought forth a considerable increase in mining concessions for different mineral resources. In the first six months of 1997, there were as many as 78 concessions for prospecting, these being 21 for diamonds, 22 for precious metals (gold, platinum), 10 for semi precious, 10 for basic metals, eight for industrial minerals, six for ornamental rocks and one for mineral waters, according to the same sources.

As on the exploration, they added, there were 156 titles, with diamonds attracting six, ornamental rocks 57, mineral-originated construction material 72, mineral waters 11, asphalt, iron, manganese five each, quartz two, and feldspar one.


Angola's diamond production climbed from 2.1 billion carats in 1973 during the colonial period to 960,000 carats in the early 90s which corresponded to a 55 per cent fall, according to sources from thestate-run geological institute.

The sources blamed the decline primarily to the armed conflicts that prompted or followed a massive pullout of the Portuguese colonial rulers, including the staff in charge of geology and mining services.

Further to the destruction of the mining infrastructure, diamond smuggling profits were reported as being extremely high as the government could hardly control the most important mining zones.Its "ENDIAMA" diamond firm, now one of the partners of the multinational "De Beers", has been restricted to a small part of the mining areas with the rest militarily occupied by the UNITA rebels of Jonas Savimbi said to earn yearly incomes of up to US$500 million against the tiny US$12 million claimed by the government.

Also declining in the same period as above was marble production. This slid from 1475 cubic metres to 244m3 representing an 83 percent drop, sources said, adding that the production of manganese and steel has been at a halt since 1975 the year of independence.

The ministry of geology and mining is at present struggling for what it calls a "diversified" mining activity to cause the country economy to stop relying only on diamonds in a country with a wide variety of mineral resources.After the oil industry, with about 90 percent, the mining sector in Angola comes second in yieldings to the State budget.


"So Why?" is how six African singers have named an LP they launched on October 9 as part of a campaign sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross appealing for the respect of war victims particularly on the continent of Africa.

The six are Lourdes Van-Dunem (Angola), Papa Wemba (ex Zaire), Youssou N'Dour (Senegal), Laybaja (Nigeria), and John Khanyile de Beyete, and Lucky Dube (South Africa).

Officials with ICRC in Luanda said the disc, which emerged from a tour of four areas of conflict in Africa (Angola, Liberia, Sudan and KwaZulu Natal) where the singers could contact some of the war victims, was launched simultaneously in 20 African countries and three European.

The campaign also includes a 20-minute TV documentary, a video and a book prefaced by President Nelson Mandela of South Africa containing a vast array of pictures.


Mrs Gro Harlen Brundtland, former Norwegian prime minister bidding for the post of World Health Organization director general, recently said in Luanda that African countries would have their funds increased if she succeeded in the vote.

After a short stay in Angola she headed for South Africa before proceeding to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, and Egypt to hear the views of local authorities and health-related institutions on the needs of the populations in those countries.

She said she was optimistic in her candidacy. "I have a programme and can do good work in favour of all, and believe that the WHO Africa sector will be a beneficiary.î

Current WHO regional director, Mr Ibrahim Samba, also a candidate for the same post, visited Angola in September.


Angola on October 8 opened an international workshop in Luanda to debate its "national plan on oil spills contingency," the first step in preparation for joining two international conventions on oilpollution in 1998.

"Civil Liability Convention," established 1975, and "Fund Convention" in 1978 are the international maritime organization (IMO) documents to be signed and which, in the opinion of experts attending the debates, will help the country achieve the necessary capability to control its territorial waters as well as actions to prevent and compensate losses caused by oil pollution.

Among the foreign experts attending the workshop are John Ostergaard, former Danish environment ministry official, since 1993 seniorcounsellor with IMO, and Chris Morris, executive secretary withthe international oil industry association . Also attending was TEXACO's adviser for oil spills related issues. ********************************

From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 12:31:51 +0200 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #3 Message-ID: <>

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Disclaimer