Key political risks to watch in Angola

2011-10-03 12:37
Lisbon - The ruling MPLA's December Central Committee meeting will be closely watched after media reports suggested long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has chosen a successor and may step down before or one year after a 2012 general election.

The weekly Novo Jornal said a month ago dos Santos had selected Manuel Vicente, head of national oil company Sonangol, as his successor, although a party spokesperson said no decisions had been taken and the party would appoint its candidate at the December meeting.

Meanwhile, two anti-government protests in September showed Angolan youths were ready to air their grievances about poor social conditions and high unemployment but also that the authorities are willing to respond with force.

On the economic front, strong oil prices have allowed Africa's second biggest crude producer to overcome its debt arrears problems and return to fast growth, but over-dependence on oil and a possible global slowdown could see those problems return.

Signs of possible succession
    

Dos Santos strengthened his 32-year grip on power with last year's new constitution, but the MPLA's decision not to quash talk about a succession signals that for the first time he may be considering a handover of power.

According to the constitution, the number one in the electoral list of the party that wins a general election becomes president.

With the main opposition UNITA in disarray thanks to an internal leadership dispute, the MPLA is favourite to win the 2012 election, meaning its list of candidates to be presented in December may signal whether a succession is planned.

If dos Santos is still selected to lead the party in the election, placing Vicente second in the list could mean the president wants to guarantee an electoral win and hand over power in a controlled manner later.

Analysts say Vicente would not represent a significant change in policies as he is already in the president's inner power circle, with many saying dos Santos is likely to remain in the background as a guarantor of stability.

Vice President Fernando Da Piedade Dias dos Santos is still also seen as a successor but has health problems and may be outflanked by Vicente or ministers of state Manuel Vieira Dias and Carlos Feijo.

Watch out for:

- Comments from dos Santos, MPLA before December meeting

- Any comments on who will succeed Vicente at Sonangol

Youths voicing protests

Two anti-government rallies in September showed that a putative youth movement has not been deterred from protests and that the government is ready to clamp down on any dissent.

The first rally in the capital, Luanda, resulted in 24 arrests and injuries to protesters, journalists and police officers during violent clashes.

A court swiftly sentenced 18 of the protesters to up to three months in jail, drawing criticism from opposition parties and international human rights organisations.

A second rally calling for the arrested to be released was blocked by police moments after it started.

Inspired by uprisings in north Africa, the pro-democracy rallies -- now totalling four this year -- have upset the MPLA, which has responded by organising pro-government demonstrations. Senior party figures have also accused the opposition of planning "a national insurrection".

Watch out for:

- Plans for more rallies, appeals against court sentences

Political bickering ahead of election

The 2012 poll will be only the second after the end of a long civil war that pitted the Russian- and Cuban-backed MPLA against Unita, supported by the United States and apartheid South Africa.

The MPLA, which won the war in 2002 and 82 percent of the vote in a 2008 general election, is likely to win the 2012 election, especially as Unita, now the main opposition party, is embroiled in an internal dispute.

Senior Unita figures in July demanded the resignation of party chief Isaias Samakuva, saying he had prevented the party from choosing its own leader freely. He responded by suspending 12 of the dissenting members for 45 days and promising a party conference by the end of the year.

The internal struggle has not stopped Unita from raising tensions with the MPLA, which it accuses of stripping the national election committee of power and transferring control of logistics to the government.

Rights watchdogs are also likely to use the campaign to call for more transparency in the oil and media sectors, greater efforts to fight poverty, and a clampdown on corruption.

- Next steps in Unita internal dispute

- Rising tension in parliament ahead of election

Transparency

Dos Santos' government has long been accused of mismanaging oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight corruption.

Graft watchdog Transparency International ranks Angola as the most corrupt country in southern Africa and 11th in the world.

Other organisations have urged the government to cut the huge influence state oil company Sonangol wields in the economy, calling for an independent agency to ensure oil income trickles down to the country's poor. An estimated two-thirds of Angola's 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day.

The usually tight-lipped government in April denied a report that it lost almost $6 billion in illicit capital flows in 2009 via "trade mispricing" in which importers pretend to pay more for imports than they actually spend.

Dos Santos has been unusually vocal about corruption after his government turned to the IMF for a loan in 2009, and his comments on zero-tolerance for graft prompted parliament to pass a law to punish corrupt officials.

But the decision-making process remains opaque, with access to key officials limited. The private media are also seen to be controlled by members of the government.

Watch out for:

- Government delivering on pledges to fight corruption

Economic growth

The central bank said in September it expected the economy to grow more than 6 percent this year, a return to the fast pace enjoyed before the 2008 oil price slump.

However, many analysts have recently lowered their growth forecasts for 2011, citing a decline in oil output in some fields and maintenance in others in the first half.

Most analysts say that strong oil prices and an improved performance in the non-oil sector will, nonetheless, allow the government to meet its target of 3.4 percent growth this year.

The analysts expect growth to accelerate in 2012 thanks to the end of a partial outage at an oil field and the start of two new major oil projects.

The government's estimate of 15 percent growth next year - based on diversification plans and a revival of the farm sector - is seen by economists as overly optimistic.

An IMF delegation said in June it saw a "positive" outlook for the rest of the year, while all three major ratings agencies recently upgraded the country's debt standing, praising the government for starting to strengthen its monetary management.

They also praised efforts to tackle $6.8 billion owed to Portuguese and Brazilian building firms.

Central bank Governor Jose de Lima Massano has been received favourably since his appointment last year, particularly for strengthening the kwanza and bringing inflation down to 13.7% in August from 16 percent in October 2010.

Massano said last week he was confident Angola could meet its target of ending the year with inflation at 12 percent even though most analysts say that will be a tough challenge.

Watch out for:

- Government forecasts for 2012 GDP, oil price assumptions
- Progress in repaying debts arrears and cutting inflation

Read more on:    unita  |  mpla  |  eduardo dos santos  |  angola  |  southern africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

 
 

Men24.com

Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Financial Advisor / Consultant

Cape Town CBD
Hi-Tech Recruitment - Johannesburg
R12 000 - R15 000 Per Hour

HTML/CSS Developer - International Digital Agency - Cape Town, R10k - R20k per month

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Initiate International
R10 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Accountant

Cape Town CBD
Tower Group (PTY) Ltd
R12 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.