Anglosan elections

2008-09-12 00:00

Angolans have waited a very long time to exercise their democratic right at the ballot box. The last chance 16 years ago led to the resumption of civil war. The recent election marked a symbolic end to one of Africa’s worst post-colonial conflicts — all the more striking because the MPLA and Unita have now traded ballots instead of bullets. But how far does the peace dividend extend?

Superficially the poll has delivered a strong endorsement of President José Eduardo dos Santos and the ruling MPLA, which received over 80% of the vote. The strongest criticism of the polling process concerned chaotic organisation, but European Community observers refused to declare the elections free and fair. In the run-up they noted state funding of the MPLA and domination of the electoral commission by party functionaries and controlled media.

Regardless of elections, the president continues to exercise extraordinary control over ministers, legislation and the budget. Corruption is rife and seven of the 10 richest Angolans are government officials.

Dos Santos, a Communist-trained engineer, has used his position to become the third wealthiest man in Brazil with extensive holdings in Portugal. His fellow citizens joke that MPLA stands for Movement for the Presidential Looting of Angola.

Massive oil revenues mean that Angola is no longer beholden to multilateral lenders who insist on fiscal discipline and strict budgetary management: one quarter of national revenue simply disappears. Having become the largest petroleum producer in Africa, Angola is achieving astonishing rates of economic growth. But the benefits are failing to reach the masses: most socio-economic indicators such as child and infant mortality, literacy levels and health provision fall woefully short. Extreme poverty is endemic and most Angolans live on less than $2 a day.

This was no triumph for democracy. The elections were a double façade for the continuation of a monopoly of power — economic as well as political — by the ruling elite. In terms of the globalised economy, Angola is a success story. But while its people may have voted, fundamentals of the African Renaissance such as real democracy, human rights and good governance remain elusive.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

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
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
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.