News24

Angolans very poor: President

2009-12-08 08:38

Luanda - Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos acknowledged during a rare public appearance on Monday that despite his country's oil wealth the majority of Angolans were "very poor".

Dos Santos, dressed in a red party T-shirt, was speaking at the opening of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party congress, only the second since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002.

"In every 100 Angolans, close to 60 are very poor. They don't manage to eat normally every day, they don't know how to read or write and they don't have easy access to drinking water," he said.

The veteran leader, who has ruled Angola for more than three decades, urged his party and business leaders to help improve the standard of living of those living in poverty.

"The efforts of the party and all society and a large part of the country's resources should be aimed at the elimination of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and unemployment," he told an audience of 2 000 party delegates.

Dos Santos also referred to the importance of businesses making money "not just for squandering" but also to create investment.

The president's comments, echoed a speech last month when he called for "zero tolerance" on corruption.

Despite Angola's enormous oil and diamond wealth, it has some of the world's worst social indicators with one in six children dying before the age of five and less than half the population with access to sanitation.

But while the World Bank estimates two thirds of the population remain in extreme poverty, a small elite, among them members of the president's family, is making billions of dollars every year from oil and other investments.

The MPLA's congress runs until Thursday. It will re-elect members of the central committee and is expected to formally name Dos Santos as the party's candidate for the upcoming presidential election, although no date has been set as the constitution is being revised.

The congress is a major event on the calendar of the party which claims to have over four million active members. In the 2008 parliamentary elections, it won 81% of the vote.