Angola regime rules in apartheid style - activist

2015-08-16 09:35

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - From beating women to unleashing dogs on protesters, Angola's government runs the oil-rich nation with an apartheid-style iron fist, says maverick activist Rafael Marques de Morais.

"Some of the methods the Angolan regime uses are reminiscent of what the apartheid regime used here in South Africa against the majority of the people," Marques said in an interview in Johannesburg.

"It's reminiscent of the old tactics the fascist Portuguese colonial regime used against the former colonial subjects," added the outspoken 43-year-old, who was a guest speaker at the South African launch of a new book on Angola.

Marques, Angola's most prominent human rights activist and journalist, was convicted earlier this year of defaming military generals in a book about violence in the country's diamond mining industry.

International rights groups say activists and journalists are increasingly being targeted by the regime of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979.

Jail term

Fifty groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrote to the president in May decrying the charges against Marques, who was handed a six-month suspended jail term.

"This case reflects a broader deterioration in the environment for freedom of expression in Angola, including the increasing use of criminal defamation lawsuits against journalists and routine police abuse" of protesters, they wrote.

Last week, Marques said police violently suppressed a protest demanding the release of 15 opposition activists who were arrested in June and charged with planning to attack and oust Dos Santos.

The protesters, numbering around 50, were "mostly mothers and relatives of these political prisoners", said Marques, who was briefly detained at the event and had his camera confiscated by police.

"As these women were being beaten by the police, some fell, and the police would unleash the dogs on them."

The Oxford-educated activist said Dos Santos' regime had reached "a new low" in trying to suppress freedom of speech.

"Even within the regime, beating up mothers was inconceivable," he said, adding: "The ruling elite hates its own people."

After emerging from a brutal 27-year civil war in 2002, Angola's huge oil supplies have fuelled a staggering ten-fold growth in the economy in the past decade.


But the recent slump in global oil prices has spelt disaster for the country, which faces elections in two years.

"In 2017, if the oil prices remain down, this regime will face the greatest challenge of its life in power, because the discontent will only grow," Marques said.

"And as the regime also seeks to repress more to maintain its grip on power, that, in the end, will backfire," he predicted.

Angola's huge oil revenues have failed to trickle down to most of its 24.3 million citizens - half of whom live on less than $2 a day - while turning a select few in the political elite into billionaires.

And Marques believes that the government's increasingly repressive approach is a response to Angola's changing economic fortunes.

"We are now at a crossroads whereby there is a serious economic crisis," he said.

"Now the government is trying to mitigate the economic crisis by increasing repression, because for many years what worked in Angola was a policy of carrot-and-stick... but nowadays what government has been left with is the stick. So we are seeing an increase in political violence."

Read more on:    angola  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Most Read
News In Your Area
Top Lifestyle
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.