Ana Gomes told SIC today "While Eduardo dos Santos died with a colossal fortune, the people (of Angola) are in misery".

Death of former President of Angola marked in very different ways in Portugal

President and foreign affairs minister to attend funeral; others describe the architect of “a kleptocracy in favour of an elite”

One of Portugal’s former diplomats and socialist MEP, Ana Gomes, has unscored the less than diplomatic comments of former politician João Soares today by saying that José Eduardo dos Santos, the former Angolan president who died this morning, had promised a “transition to democracy” in Angola, but opted for the “development of a kleptocracy in favour of an elite”.

“José Eduardo dos Santos came to be a promise of a transition to democracy and to make Angola more developed and fairer, but that promise quickly crumbled,” she told Lusa.

Ana Gomes says the promise came with the end of the war in 2002, “but under the regime of the all-powerful José Eduardo dos Santos, he opted for what they justified as the primitive accumulation of capital and the development of a kleptocracy in favour of an elite that includes his family and his closest relations against the people left in misery“.

The former socialist MP also regretted that this process “of a supposed transition to democracy that collapsed” had “the complicity of many Portuguese politicians, who helped contribute to this farce, while at the same time benefiting from the economic effects of turning” Portugal “into the main laundry for this Angolan kleptocracy”.

Portugal also ended up being contaminated by this kleptocratic scheme, which began by controlling Portuguese media groups because they knew how important they were for the information that was passed to Angola,” she said.

The former ambassador noted that, despite some very tough times, relations between the Angolan and Portuguese people remain “intense and fraternal” (very possibly helped by a president here who understands the importance of diplomacy).

Gomes also said that Angola is “a country that could be a geopolitically stabilising force for Africa, but it is a giant with the weight of clay. It has not developed agriculture, fishing, the industrial base and has become all dependent on the curse of oil which is obviously the source of the income that feeds the kleptocracy.” 

The only shaft of positivity came when Ana Gomes said she hoped that the death of José Eduardo dos Santos “will bring peace to Angola” and “will not cause more tension in a period in which tensions naturally build up, given that in August there will be the so-called elections”.

José Eduardo dos Santos died today at the age of 79 in a clinic in Barcelona, Spain, after weeks in hospital. Angola has declared five days of national mourning.

José Eduardo dos Santos succeeded Agostinho Neto as President of Angola in 1979 and left office in 2017, serving one of the longest presidencies in the world, marked by accusations of corruption and nepotism.

In 2017, he declined to run again and the current president, João Lourenço, succeeded him in office, having also been elected by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which has ruled in the country since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Eduardo dos Santos daughter Isabel dos Santos has been equally mired in allegations of high corruption – and one of his other daughters has been suspicious of some level of ‘foul play’ in her father’s demise, and has requested an autopsy before his body is transported to Angola for a State burial. 

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com