• Photo: Matuko Amini
  • Photo: DanWatch 2010
Oliver Graner Sæbye, Laila Lildballe, Anne Skjerning, Sarah Wykes, Maren Urban Swart og Peter Bengtsen (ansv.)

Bling-bling and mammon to the elite

Parties with colorful drinks and cars worth millions are major items on the Angolan state budget. This peppered with the favouring of the elite makes the country one of the most unequal in the world.

After the parliamentary elections in September 2008 the elected parliamentarians were not only rewarded with a seat in parliament, but also got $150,000 to purchase a car and other private purposes. The cost amounted to $33.9 million.
But the spending on the parliamentary fleet of cars does not stop here. The MPs also needed cars they could use during their official work. Thus, in 2010, $35.7 million were allocated for the purchase of 210 BMWs of the model 535i.

Besides a penchant for expensive cars, there is also room on the state budget for the costs of the MPs' annual Christmas cocktail party. Both in 2009 and 2010 the cost of the party amounted to $2.5 million.

Money to abolished office

Looking elsewhere in the budget there is confusion about the funding for the Prime Minister.
This position was abolished in February 2010 and instead the position of Vice President was created. Yet the now non-existing office of the Prime Minister received $78,5 million in 2010, while the department for the newly appointed Vice President only received  $7.8 million.

However, it is not only in this area that the numbers look suspicioust. The government's links to the business community leaves a trail of financial speculation.

-The business community continues to favor people linked to the government; ministers and other high ranking officials often openly owns parts of companies that are regulated by or doing business with their respective ministries, says the U.S. State Department’s report on human rights in Angola from 2009.

The report finds that corruption in the Angolan government is widespread, and those involved are almost never held accountable.

Doubts about bringing an end to corruption

The international community's stamping of Angola as corrupt in 2009 led President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos to declare that from now on there would be zero tolerance against corruption among government members and MLPA’s MPs. The following year, however, it was unclear whether the President's words were sincere.

-President Eduardo dos Santos has announced a national campaign against corruption and a couple of senior officials have been indicted, but it is unclear whether any real steps to tackle corruption and opacity have been taken. Angola's economy remains heavily concentrated in the hands of a small political elite, and improvements of the situation will require an enormous effort to strengthen institutions and increase transparency, according to OECD's African Economy Outlook from 2010.

Economic motive

Journalist Suzana Mendes from the newspaper Angolese sees the presidential statement more as part of a power struggle than as an expression of a genuine change of attitude. She predicts that Dos Santos will use the zero tolerance against corruption campaign to accuse other prominent members of his own MPLA party of corruption, and thereby undermine their potential advancement in the party.

The question is also how big an economic motive Dos Santos had for his outspoken opposition to corruption. Two days after his announcement, the IMF approved a $1.4 billion loan to Angola.