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José dos Santos, who led Marxist Angola to crony capitalism, dies | Obituaries News

Angola’s longest-serving chief, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has died on the age of 79 in a Barcelona clinic, in line with an announcement on Fb by the nation’s presidency.

He died at 11:10am Spanish time (10:10 GMT) on Friday on the Barcelona Teknon clinic after a chronic sickness, the publish stated.

A dominant and influential determine in Angolan and African politics for greater than 30 years, dos Santos was the nation’s second president. His 38-year-old stint in energy left a legacy that continues to divide opinions inside and out of doors Angola.

Zé Dú, as he affectionately got here to be identified all through his lengthy presidential time period, had been in exile in Barcelona since late 2017, when he formally retired from political life, leaving energy to his successor, the present president of Angola, Mr João Lourenço.

Though there has by no means been an official assertion in regards to the extent of dos Santos’ well being issues, he made common visits overseas for medical help – even throughout his presidency, resulting in hypothesis that he had most cancers.

Different particulars about his dying stay unknown.

From grass to grace

Behind the ability and public life, the person who was born in 1942 to a mason in a humble neighborhood on the outskirts of Luanda, was an enigma of types.

A quiet man who not often gave speeches or interviews, he by no means spoke a lot publicly.

Like lots of his era, Mr dos Santos joined the wrestle for Angola’s liberation from Portuguese colonial rule early on. As a 19-year-old pupil, he joined The Individuals’s Motion for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Angola’s ruling get together.

By 1961, he turned an official member of the MPLA and was chosen by the motion to check petroleum engineering in Moscow. The previous Soviet Union – and Cuba – supported many independence actions in Africa, creating many subplots within the long-running Chilly Battle.

A decade on, he returned dwelling having graduated, to serve within the armed motion of his get together for the Angolan liberation wrestle.

Since Angola’s independence proclamation in November 1975, dos Santos held essential positions within the authorities and in his get together. Between 1975-76, he held the function of the nation’s first international minister.

Nevertheless it was three years later following the dying of Angola’s first president, Antonio Agostinho Neto, that dos Santos took a leap to the massive stage.

He was nominated by the MPLA to take over the reins of a rustic mourning the untimely departure of certainly one of its founding fathers.

Securing the peace

“It is not a simple substitute, nor does it look like a doable substitute to me, it is only a mandatory substitute,” he stated of his predecessor in his inaugural nationwide speech in September 1979.

And it was clear why.

The brand new president had inherited a rustic that, regardless of being unbiased, had unresolved issues with itself.

Essentially the most urgent one on the time was the civil battle between the nationwide liberation actions: dos Santos’ MPLA, the Nationwide Union for the Complete Independence of Angola (UNITA), and the Nationwide Liberation Entrance of Angola (FNLA).

The MPLA was primarily operating a one-party state so the opposite actions continued to stage assaults

In 1991, a peace settlement was reached between the MPLA led by dos Santos and UNITA, headed by Jonas Savimbi. However the next yr, Savimbi didn’t settle for election outcomes that confirmed the MPLA successful, so battle erupted once more.

It was not till after Savimbi was killed in a conflict with authorities troops in February 2002, {that a} second peace settlement was made.

Oppression, repression and corruption

Throughout his time as president, Angola turned the continent’s second-largest oil producer and third-largest producer of diamonds. So dos Santos was seen as a key stabilizing affect within the nation and in southern Africa however in the identical interval, the nation turned identified for enduring corruption and regarding undemocratic practices.

In January 2010, a brand new structure strengthened his energy and prolonged his rule.

However lengthy earlier than then, he had steered the nation away from its Marxist leanings to a extra capitalistic bent. Buyers got here from China and elsewhere to discover Angolan oil and with that got here crony capitalism, as MPLA members and dos Santos allies had been reportedly enriched from dealings within the sector.

Many of the inhabitants nonetheless lives in poverty, a pointy distinction to the luxurious way of life of the Angolan elite, largely shaped throughout the dos Santos’ period. His eldest daughter Isabel turned Africa’s richest lady with an estimated fortune of $3.5bn, in line with a Forbes’ 201 analysis.

Critics say underneath his rule anybody who dared to criticize him or his household may both be persecuted or arrested on the time, together with journalists, activists and different dissidents.

One of many circumstances that got here to characterize the violation of human rights was the 2015 arrest of younger activists for studying a e book on democracy.

Lourenco, dos Santos’s protection minister who got here to energy in September 2017, launched an anti-corruption crackdown after his mentor’s exit from energy.

However issues turned turbo-charged in 2020 after Luanda Leaks, an investigation carried out by the Worldwide Consortium of Investigative Journalists uncovered how Isabel dos Santos allegedly embezzled public cash from Angola to construct her billion-dollar empire.

The state charged her with cash laundering, forgery and different monetary crimes referring to her time in control of Angola’s nationwide oil firm, Sonangol – a task she was appointed to by her father. Her belongings had been seized and one other sibling was sentenced to 5 years in jail for embezzling as much as $500m throughout his tenure as head of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.

An enigma in life and in dying

After leaving workplace, the elder dos Santos went into exile to a Barcelona mansion. He barely commented on issues of state publicly.

And through his final days, there was a public battle of wits between the previous president’s household and the state on how his well being needs to be managed. Welwitschea José dos Santos, certainly one of his daughters, even made public accusations saying there have been clear intentions to “hasten the dying” of her father.

His dying on Friday comes at a very delicate time for Angolan democracy, because the nation prepares for its upcoming elections in August 2022. Components loyal to dos Santos are working to unseat Lourenco, who’s seen as singling out the previous first household.

Thus far it’s unclear what impression his dying may have on this course of, nor how and the place his funeral will happen – given the present hostile relationship between his older kids – some in exile in Europe – and the Angolan state.

In life as in dying, dos Santos stays an enigma.


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