Angola’s ruling party imploding as Lourenco wields axe (by Pedro Agosto)

Coincidingwith a promise of an economic miracle inAngola turning into a nightmare, the prospects of the country's rulingparty look doomed as President Joao Lourenco tightens his grip on theMovement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) with a string of dismissalsand probes of comrades critical of his autocratic style of leadership.

Fear has thus gripped the party, formed in 1956 and in power sinceindependence 1975, ahead of an Extraordinary Congress later this yearostensibly to define strategies leading to the local elections scheduledfor 2020.

However, coming on the back of expulsions of some leading party figures,members have projected the congress to be a platform for further purges atthe behest of Lourenco and his right-hand man, General Fernando GarciaMiala, who heads the state intelligence and security service (SINSE).

The decision to hold the congress was made during the first regularmeeting of the party's Political Bureau, held recently in the capitalLuanda, under the request of Lourenccedil;o.

Political analyst, Dominique Jordatilde;o, questioned the timing of the congress.

It creates the impression Lourenco is aiming for total control of theparty and purge some opponents. The announcement has come too soon afterhis election to head the ruling party,rdquo; he said.

He had succeeded dos Santos as leader of the Southern African country theprevious year.

It is reported the dismantling of the MPLA's central committee is on theagenda.

The mood within the party is also panicky following indications a list ofnames of MPLA members has recently been compiled and submitted toprosecutors.

This week, the former provincial governor of Luanda, Higino Carneiro, a highly respected war hero wasofficially charged in a lawsuit over alleged corruption during his tenurebetween 2016 and 2017.

The current vice-president of the National Assembly, and former ministerof Public Works, is also accused of having abused his ministerial positionduring his term of office from 2002 to 2010.

He has been identified as a potential competitor to President Lourenco, who appearsnot to take kindly to criticis.

The purge at state enterprises has also raised concern particularly asthey were the lifeblood of the ruling party over the years.

Former director of the Angola Highways Institute (INEA), JoaquimSebastiatilde;o, was recently arrested for alleged corruption, but this raisedeyebrows as the arrest came almost a decade after he was retired.

This, the head of INEA in Cabinda, Igor Pereira, was detained followingaccusations of embezzlement, money laundering and misappropriation ofstate funds.

On Tuesday, Lourenccedil;o relieved Paulino Fernando de Carvalho Jeroacute;nimo, from his position of Secretary of State to take the lead in the oil agency, therefore a promotion as a trusted part of the Lourenccedil;o clan.

The president on Mondaydismissed Miguel Damiatilde;o Gago from the position of board director of theSovereign Fund of Angola (FSDEA), only a month after his appointment.

Jordatilde;o said through the arrests and dismissals, Lourenco was portrayinghimself as an anti-corruption proponent and delivering on his electioncampaign.

However, this anti-corruption crusade comes across as a vindictivecampaign targeting opponents,rdquo; Jordao said.

On the economic front, Africa's second largest producer of crude oil(after Nigeria), Angola is yet to see the economic miracle Lorenco pledgedwhen he campaigned for office.

Central bank governor, Jose de Lima Massano, has been quoted as saying,In 2019, we will look at 2018 with regrets.rdquo;

Lourenccedil;o had promised his pledge of a miracle on foreign direct investmentbut this has not materialized, instead, debt has risen from 68,5% to 91% of the GDP in 2018since President has been in power: over 2.5 Billion USD in Eurobonds, 3.7 Billion USD from IMF, over 2 Billion USD from China to name the latest addition.

His administration also pinned its hopes on the Law on the Repatriation ofFinancial Resources.

It establishes terms and conditions for the repatriation of financialresources held abroad by resident individuals and legal entities withregistered office in Angola, but there is little to suggest the amountfunds that have been repatriated.

The central bank governor claimed he had no knowledge but this is seen asa tactic not to discredit the government.

Lourenco had at the start of his presidency announced US$30 billion hadbeen externalised. The general international communityhad expected that he should have repatriated at least 30 percent by the end of 2018, but that proved unsuccessful.

Angola recorded a 1,6 percent economic contraction in the third quarter of2018 and ended the year with an inflation rate of 18,6 percent, theNational Statistics Institute (INE) stated in January.

Joseacute; Calenge, from the National Accounts and Statistical CoordinationDepartment of INE, said the year-on- year drop in gross domestic product(GDP) was due to poor performance in sectors such as oil, diamonds andagriculture.

Transport and telecommunications also declined, dealing a blow togovernment plans to diversify Africa's fifth biggest economy from anover-reliance on oil.

- CAJ News

Source: CAJ News Africa

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