IMF Approves $772 Million Credit For Angola

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

The International Monetary Fund has approved the immediate disbursement of $772 million to Angola as part of a three-year arrangement signed in 2018 to reform its economy.

It was the latest tranche of a $3.7 billion facility granted to the southern African nation to improve governance and diversify its economy to promote sustainable, private sector-led economic growth, the Fund said in a statement Wednesday.

The Fund’s board also indicated it favors an extension of the country’s debt service moratorium until the end of December 2021.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF had also authorized a credit increase of $765 million to help Angolan authorities fight the disease.

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“Angola is transitioning to a gradual recovery from the Covid-19 shock amid higher global oil prices, low levels of reported Covid-19 infections and the start of a vaccination campaign,” the IMF said.

“The effects of the pandemic continue to be felt across the economy and society, however.”

The board also approved Angola’s request to change performance criteria as part of its three-year program.

AFP

Angola Police Kills Separatists In Thwarted Protest

Angola is situated in Southern Africa
Angola is situated in Southern Africa

 

Angolan security officials killed several separatists protesting in the country’s northeast over the weekend, authorities and rights defenders said, raising fresh concerns over a long-standing culture of police brutality.

The crackdown took place against an unauthorised demonstration in the diamond mining town of Cafunfo in the remote Luanda Norte province, around 750 kilometres (470 miles) east of the capital Luanda and near Angola’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Members of the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement, one of two active secessionist groups in the vast southwest African country, took to the streets on Saturday without the go-ahead from local authorities.

Authorities’ and rights defenders’ accounts of the deadly incident that followed do not match.

Luanda Norte police claim officers acted in self-defence after around 300 armed protesters assaulted the Cafunfo police station under cover of dark, wounding two officers.

“In response to such an evident rebellion and in an attempt to disperse them… the death of four citizens (ensued),” they said in a statement issued by the government on Saturday, adding that two wounded protesters died later in hospital.

But unverified video footage of the incident circulated on Twitter shows military and police officers standing over a dozen unarmed bodies in broad daylight.

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Some lie motionless, covered in blood, while others are visibly injured and appear unable to stand. One official is seen kicking a man sitting on the ground and stamping on his head.

Senior Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado, who shared the video, said it was sent to her directly by a police officer at the scene.

“Protesters were met by excessive use of force from the police,” Machado told AFP on Monday.

“The group claims that 12 of their activists were killed,” she added, saying that HRW was “in the process of verifying the footage”.

 

Angola’s main opposition UNITA party has meanwhile condemned the “barbaric murder of at least 21 citizens” by security forces and called on the government to “take a position”.

Police are notoriously violent in Angola — the legacy of a 1975-2002 civil war and almost four decades of repressed dissent under former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Machado said attitudes towards demonstrations had remained the same under current President Joao Lourenco, who took office in 2017.

Police violently dispersed several protests against poor living conditions in the capital Luanda last year, firing live bullets and tear gas into the crowds.

“One of the main issues we have frequently raised is the need to reform the security and defence forces,” Machado said. “They cannot continue to operate as if they were in a state of war.”

Separatist movements are banned by Angolan law.

AFP

IMF Approves $487.5m Aid To Angola

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

 

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board announced Monday it had approved the disbursement of $487.5 million to Angola, which is suffering from low oil prices due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The financial aid is part of a three-year agreement for about $3.7 billion (the value at the time) that was approved on December 7, 2018, under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

The EFF provides for longer IMF support for a program, as well as longer repayment terms for loans.

Monday’s disbursement brings the IMF to a total of nearly $3 billion granted in aid to the southwestern African country, which has significant oil and mineral wealth, but a large part of its population lives in poverty.

The three-year plan “aims to restore external and fiscal sustainability, improve governance, and diversify the economy to promote sustainable, private sector-led economic growth,” the IMF said in a statement.

The Washington-based lender noted that the economic shock brought on by the coronavirus pandemic “continues to negatively impact Angola’s economy and population.

“Oil production and prices remain weak, and the health and social impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt,” the group said.

After a fourth review of Angola’s economy under the three-year program, the IMF said that despite this difficult environment, “the authorities… remain resolutely committed to the program.

“The authorities achieved a prudent fiscal adjustment in 2020 that included non-oil revenue gains and restraint in non-essential expenditure, while preserving essential spending on health and social safety nets,” the IMF concluded in approving the disbursement.

Thousands Of Faithful Gather As Angolan Church Reopens

Members of the congregation practice social distancing at the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ In the World in Luanda on September 20, 2020 during the Sunday service. – Thousands of congregants gathered at a mega Church in Luanda for the first religious celebrations since March 2020 when gathering were banned on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Osvaldo Silva / AFP)

 

Thousands of Angolan Christians attended a church service in Luanda on Sunday, their first since coronavirus restrictions forced them to stay home six months ago.

At least 3,000 parishioners dressed in white gathered at the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ In the World, also known as the Tocoist Church.

They sat on chairs arranged around a metre (yard) apart for an open air service at the mega church in the Golfe II suburb.

The service lasted 90 minutes, much shorter than the traditional five hours, an AFP photographer said.

Religious gatherings were banned in March when Angola’s government imposed restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

It has infected more than 3,900 people in Angola and killed at least 147 to date.

Early this month, government announced that churches were free to resume services and celebrate mass, under strict mandatory use of face masks.

It also ordered that gatherings be held in well-ventilated spaces to limit the spread of the virus.

Members of the congregation raise their hands in prayer at the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ In the World during the Sunday service in Luanda on September 20, 2020. – Thousands of congregants gathered at a mega Church in Luanda for the first religious celebrations since March 2020 when gathering were banned on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Osvaldo Silva / AFP)

Face masks on and bibles in hand, parishioners orderly filed one at a time into the church complex through a gate.

Except for choir members, the worshippers sang hymns with their masks on and waved white handkerchiefs.

“Six months later! Oh yes! It’s been a long time, especially for us Christians…It seems like five, six years… have passed,” said a smiling Clara Cale, 57, after the service.

“We are here to celebrate our immense joy,” she said.

Don Afonso Nunes, a church leader, was relieved at the decision to allow churches to resume services.

“Thanks to God, today is a great day to resume our worship and we have to celebrate,” he said.

AFP

Fraud: Angolan Court Sentences Ex-Leader’s Son To Five Years Imprisonment

Angola is situated in Southern Africa
Angola is situated in Southern Africa

 

 

Angola’s Supreme Court on Friday handed a five-year jail sentence to Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of the oil-rich country’s former president, for fraud when he headed the national sovereign wealth fund.

Dos Santos, 42, was summoned before a court in December over allegations he tried to embezzle up to $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) from the sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Nicknamed “Zenu”, dos Santos was charged with stealing $500 million from the fund and transferring it to a Swiss bank account.

“For the crime of fraud… and for the crime of peddling influence… the legal cumulus condemns him to a single sentence of five years in prison,” judge Joao da Cruz Pitra said.

Three co-defendants, including the former governor of the national bank of Angola (BNA) Valter Filipe da Silva, were sentenced to between four and six years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling.

All four were acquitted of money-laundering charges. They had previously denied any wrongdoing.

Zenu is the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part an anti-graft campaign led by President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017.

In February, Angolan investigators froze the assets of Zenu’s billionaire half-sister Isabel dos Santos.

She is being probed for a long list of crimes in Angola, including mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering during her stewardship of the state-run oil giant Sonangol.

Lourenco has mainly targeted the family members of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who appointed relatives and friends to key positions during his 38-year rule — leaving a legacy of poverty and nepotism.

Isabel has vehemently denied the accusations against her and denounced Luanda’s actions as a politically-motivated “witch-hunt”.

Only a small elite have benefitted from Angola’s vast oil and mineral reserves.

The southwest African country has been slow to recover from a 1975-2002 civil war. Large pockets of the population live in poverty with limited access to basic services.

AFP

Angolan Policeman Jailed 16 Years For Shooting Street Vendor

Angola is situated in Southern Africa
Angola is situated in Southern Africa

 

An Angolan court on Friday sentenced a policeman to 16 years in jail for gunning down a street vendor who refused to be evicted.

Juliana Kafriq, 38, was shot dead in March last year after she resisted a police raid on an informal market in the capital Luanda.

The mother-of-three’s killer, police officer Goncalo Sakala Ganga, was found guilty by Luanda’s provincial court and handed a hefty prison term.

Security officials are rarely prosecuted in Angola, where the justice system is accused of being sluggish and mired in corruption.

“The defendant is sentenced to 16 years in prison for voluntary homicide and fined five million kwanza (around $10,000),” judge Nelson Cabangange announced on Friday.

Ganga will also have to pay 50,000 kwanzas ($100) as compensation to the victim’s family, Cabangange added.

The 36-year-old police officer claimed he was shooting in the air and did not intend to “kill someone”.

Defence lawyer Gerson Calei said the sentence was too harsh and that he would appeal the verdict.

“(Ganga) was on duty and his life was at risk,” Calei told AFP. “He did not think he would kill someone so it was involuntary homicide.”

Most of Luanda’s vendors do not have licences and are regularly evicted by the police. But bloodshed is rare and officers do not usually resort to firearms.

Prosecutor Monica Bonita welcomed the judge’s decision and said there was “no doubt” the act was “premeditated”.

Witnesses said Kafriq was shot through the neck behind a bakery in the neighbourhood of Rocha Pinto, where she had been selling goods for over a decade.

“I apologise to the family… to all salespeople and to all Angolans,” said Ganga in a court appearance last week, extending his condolences to the family.

 

AFP

Angola’s Dos Santos Says ‘Ready To Fight’ Against ‘Untrue’ Graft Claims

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos visits the new started EFACEC Portuguese corporation’s electric mobility industrial unit in Maia. AFP

 

Angola’s billionaire former first daughter Isabel dos Santos on Thursday dismissed graft allegations against her and vowed: “to fight through the international courts to defend my good name”.

The British-educated tycoon and eldest daughter of ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been charged in Angola with money laundering and mismanagement during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

“The allegations which have been made against me over the last few days are extremely misleading and untrue,” she said in a statement issued through a public relations firm in London.

“This is a very concentrated, orchestrated and a well-coordinated political attack, ahead of elections in Angola next year.

“It is an attempt to neutralise me and to discredit the legacy of President dos Santos and his family,” dos Santos said.

“No-one should be taken in by these diversionary tactics.”

Documents leaked this week by the New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) alleged she plundered state coffers to build her fortune, estimated at $2.1 billion (1.82 billion euros).

But in her statement Thursday, dos Santos said the “stolen” documents had been leaked “selectively to give a false impression of my business activities”.

She added: “I am ready to fight through the international courts to defend my good name.

“I have engaged lawyers to take action against inaccurate and defamatory reports.

“We deny all the latest allegations being made by Angolan authorities.”

A spokesman at the PR firm representing dos Santos said he did not know her current location, but that she had been in Britain this week.

AFP

‘Africa’s Richest Woman’ Charged With Fraud

In this file photo taken on March 5, 2015 Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos attends an art exhibition in Porto, northern Portugal. FERNANDO VELUDO / PUBLICO / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 5, 2015 Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos attends an art exhibition in Porto, northern Portugal. FERNANDO VELUDO / PUBLICO / AFP

 

Angola’s billionaire former first daughter Isabel dos Santos has been charged with money laundering and mismanagement during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

Documents leaked this week alleged the daughter of ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, dubbed Africa’s richest woman, plundered state coffers to build her fortune, estimated at $2.1 billion (1.82 billion euros).

“Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management … forgery of documents, among other economic crimes,” prosecutor general Helder Pitta Gros told a news conference late Wednesday.

Investigations into Isabel dos Santos’s 18-month tenure as Sonangol head from June 2016 were opened after her successor Carlos Saturnino raised the alarm about “irregular money transfers” and other dodgy procedures.

Isabel dos Santos is accused of using her father’s backing to plunder state funds from the oil-rich but poor southern African country and moving the money abroad with the help of Western firms.

She stopped living in Angola after her father, who ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly 40 years, stepped down in 2017 for his anointed successor Joao Lourenco.

Gros said dos Santos was among five suspects, all of whom were currently residing abroad.

“At the moment, the concern is to notify and get them to voluntarily come to justice,” said Gros.

 

AFP

Angola Freezes Bank Accounts Of Ex-President’s Daughter Over Corruption

Isabela Dos Santos
FILES) In this file photograph taken on February 5, 2018, Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos looks on as she visits the recently started EFACEC Portuguese corporation’s electric mobility industrial unit in Maia, central Portugal. An Angolan court, acting in a graft investigation, has frozen bank accounts held by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the public prosecutor said. Dos Santos — who has been nicknamed Africa’s wealthiest

 

 

An Angolan court, acting in a graft investigation, has frozen bank accounts held by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the public prosecutor said.

Dos Santos — who has been nicknamed Africa’s wealthiest woman — is being investigated with her husband Sindika Dokolo in a corruption affair involving more than a billion dollars (euros), it said in a statement issued late Monday.

The probe is looking at alleged irregularities involving state companies, including the oil giant Sonangol which Isabel dos Santos used to run, and a diamond-marketing firm, Sodiam.

A tribunal in the capital Luanda, in a decision issued on December 23, ordered bank accounts held by the couple to be frozen.

Their holdings in several Angolan companies, including the telecoms firm Unitel and cement company Cimangola, have also been frozen, the statement said.

The court’s decision also applies to a Portuguese businessman, Mario da Silva.

In a tweet, Isabel dos Santos, 46, said she sent “a message of tranquility and confidence to my teams.”

“We will continue, every day, in every business, doing our best and fighting for what I believe in for Angola. The road is long, the truth will prevail. United we stand strong,” she said.

She was appointed head of Sonangol in 2016 but was forced out the following year, in one of the first major acts undertaken by her father’s successor, Joao Lourenco.

She has since left Angola — like most members of the Dos Santos family — because she claims she has faced death threats.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years — a time widely associated with corruption and nepotism.

His family accuses Lourenco’s government of persecution.

The former president’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, 41, who is Isabel dos Santos’s half-brother, went on trial in early December for alleged corruption.

He is accused of embezzling as much as $1.5 billion from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund during his 2013-2018 stewardship.

Despite extensive oil, gas and mineral reserves, the majority of Angolans live in poverty and continue to rely on subsistence agriculture.

AFP

Angola Commences Corruption Trial Of Ex-President’s Son

Angola Ex-President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos

 

The son of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appeared in court on Monday, at the start of his trial on corruption charges.

It is the first time a member of the dos Santos family appears in dock since President Joao Lourenco came to power in 2017, part of a wave of change that has followed his arrival.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, 41, also known as “Zenu” is accused of having tried to steal $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund during the time that he ran it.

He appeared before the Supreme Court along with three codefendants, who also face charges of money laundering and embezzlement — one of them former central bank governor Valter Filipe da Silva.

Zenu was appointed head of the $5 billion fund in 2013, 34 years into his father’s reign.

In January 2018, only months after Lourenco came to power, Zenu was fired from his position. He was arrested in September that year and held in custody for seven months before being released on bail.

Lourenco has launched a large-scale purge of the dos Santos administration, during which key sectors of the economy were awarded to the former president’s close allies and relatives.

Zenu’s half-sister Isabel dos Santos was ousted from her position as chair of the state oil giant Sonangol even sooner, in November 2017.

Cited as the richest woman in Africa, she is also being investigated for embezzlement.

She has since quit Angola for Britain, from where she has denounced Lourenco, saying she has been censored in the Angolan press and alleging that she quit the country because she had received death threats.

Lourenco is struggling to wean Angola’s economy off of oil, which accounts for one-third of the former Portuguese colony’s GDP and more than 90 percent of exports.

The country is still recovering from a 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002, and the global fall in oil prices in 2014.

Despite extensive oil, gas and mineral reserves, the majority of Angolans live in poverty and continue to rely on subsistence agriculture.

Most members of the dos Santos family have moved abroad.

Nigeria To Play Angola, Gabon At Handball Nations Cup

 

Nigeria will play in group B with Angola, Gabon and Libya at the 24th edition of the Men’s Senior Handball Africa Nations Cup scheduled for 15th to 25th January 2020 in Tunisia.

The tournament will also serve as African qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and 2021 World Championship in Egypt.

Technical director of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) Coach Ferdinand Emeana is confident that with good preparations, Nigeria can advance from a group which he described as tricky.

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Coach Emeana has also charged the ministry of sports to support the team with funds to prepare adequately for the tournament so they can impress and ultimately pick a ticket to the Olympics and world championship.

“For me, I wouldn’t say whether the group is cheap or tough. Ours is to give the country a good representation and that means picking a world cup ticket and Olympics ticket.

It’s not going to be easy but the players are determined and the board is determined. What I request is the support of the government”

We need to prepare well to get a good result, I expect that the team will go on playing tour before the championship. Looking at the performance of the team at the last All Africa Games, if well motivated, we’ll stun Africa”. He concluded.

Nigeria reached the quarter-final of the 2019 African games in Morocco and will hope to do better at the Africa Nations Cup.

2020 AFRICAN MEN’S HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Group A
Egypt
DR Congo
Guinea
Kenya

Group B
Angola
Gabon
Nigeria
Libya

Group C
Tunisia
Cameroon
Ivory Coast
Cape Verde

Group D
Morocco
Algeria
Congo Brazzaville
Senegal
Zambia

Angola Seizes Diamonds, Expels Half A Million Migrants

 

Angolan authorities have expelled more than half a million undocumented migrants in the past year as part of an operation to target diamond smuggling, the government said Friday.

Mineral-rich Angola is a major producer of diamonds but the government believes many are bought and sold illegally by foreigners.

“The authorities have repatriated 527,725 illegal immigrants, closed down 96 illegal diamond cooperatives, four mining projects and 289 shops,” said a spokesman for the presidency, Pedro Sebastiao, during a press conference.

Tens of thousands of diamonds have been seized since Angola’s “Operation Transparency” was launched in September 2018.

Angola’s government says the move is meant to regulate the mining industry by tackling illegal mining operations and undocumented migration.

It was launched by President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017 and has been struggling to revive the country’s faltering economy.

Human Rights Watch condemned the operation as “abusive”, saying more than 400,000 people were either forcibly deported or pushed to flee to neighbouring DR Congo in October last year.

The government has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The mandate for Operation Transparency was extended to Angola’s coastline in March to fight “illegal fishing, the smuggling of goods and fuel and drug trafficking,” said Sebastiao.

A total of 356 fishing boats have been seized, he added.

Sub-saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer was hit hard by a global slump in crude prices in 2014.

Lourenco has so far failed to deliver the economic “miracle” promised during his campaign.

With little economic diversification, the state continues to rely on oil for 70 percent of its revenue.